DEPARTMENT OF CONSERVATION AND DEVELOPMENT
BEN E. DOUGLAS, DIRECTOR
DIVISION OF MINERAL RESOURCES
JASPER L. STUCKEY, STATE GEOLOGIST
Bulletin Number 67
THE COMMERCIAL GRANITES
OF NORTH CAROLINA
RICHARD J. COUNCILL
UN 1 1
Department of Conservation and Development
Ben E. Douglas, Director
Division of Mineral Resources
Jasper L. Stuckey,- State Geologist
Bulletin Number 67
THE COMMERCIAL GRANITES
OF NORTH CAROLINA
Richard J. Councill
MEMBERS OF THE BOARD OF CONSERVATION
Governor William B. Umstead, Chairman . Raleigh
Miles J. Smith, First Vice Chairman Salisbury
Walter J. Damtoft, Second Vice Chairman Canton
Charles S. Allen Durham
W. B. Austin Jefferson
Carl Buchan, Jr North Wilkesboro
Scroop W. Enloe, Jr Spruce Pine
Robert M. Hanes Winston-Salem
Leo H. Harvey Kinston
Charles H. Jenkins : Ahoskie
Amos R. Kearns High Point
Cecil Morris Atlantic
Hugh M. Morton Wilmington
Henry Rankin, Jr Fayetteville
Eric W. Rodgers Scotland Neck
T. Max Watson Spindale
LETTER OF TRANSMITTAL
Raleigh, North Carolina
February 15, 1954
To His Excellency, Governor William B. Umstead
Governor of North Carolina
I have the honor to submit herewith manuscript for publi-
cation as Bulletin No. 67, "The Commercial Granites of North
Carolina," by Richard J. Councill.
Bulletin No. 2, "The Building and Ornamental Stones of
North Carolina," which was published in 1906, has been out of
print for several years. The importance of granite as a building
material has increased rapidly in recent years. North Carolina
is well supplied with granite, and it is believed that this report
will be of considerable value to those interested in the granite
resources of the State.
Ben E. Douglas,
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Methods of investigation and acknowledgments 1
Granite defined 2
Origin of granite 3
Dikes penetrating the granites 3
Acid dikes and veins 4
Basic dikes 4
Schistose dikes 4
Diabase dikes 4
Physical and structural properties of granite 5
Dimension stone 5
General ..' 5
Dikes and veins : 5
Segregations and inclusions 5
Rift and grain 6
Color , 6
Crushed stone 6
Toughness and hardness 6
Soundness _■ 8
Geographic distribution of granite and related rocks 8
Blue Ridge 8
Piedmont Plateau 8
Coastal Plain 8
Granites of the Coastal Plain 10
Wilson County 10
Contentnea Creek area 10
Sims area 10
Elm City area . 11
Edgecombe and Nash Counties 12
Pitt County 12
Fountain area 12
Anson and Richmond Counties 13
The Wadesboro-Rockingham area 13
Basic dikes 14
Granites of the Piedmont Plateau 14
Northeast Piedmont 14
Central Piedmont 14
Western Piedmont 14
Granites of the Northeast Piedmont 16
Wake County 17
Raleigh granite area , 17
The city quarries 17
The Sutton quarry . 17
Other quarries 17
The Crabtree quarry : 17
Rolesville granite area 18
Dimension stone quarry 18
Lassiter quarry 18
Wendell granite area '. 18
Knightdale granite area 20
Abandoned quarry 20
Other granite and granite-gneiss areas in Wake County 20
Wake Forest , 20
TABLE OF CONTENTS — CONTINUED
Vance County 21
Greystone quarry 21
Middleburg quarry : 21
Other granite areas in Vance County 22
Franklin County 22
The Louisburg area :. 22
Dimension stone quarry 22
Basic dikes 23
Warren County 23
Warrenton area 23
Warren Plains area 23
Warren County State quarry 23
Old quarry 24
Granville County 24
State quarry 24
Northampton County .____ 24
The Henrico area 24
Orange County 25
The Bacon quarry 25
Other Counties 26
Granites of the Central Piedmont 26
Rowan County 28
The Harris granite quarries 28
The Balfour quarry 29
The Carolina quarry 30
The Dunns Mountain quarries 30
The American quarry 30
The Shuping quarry 30
The old Rowan Granite Company's quarries 31
Quarries of the Salisbury Granite Industries, Inc 31
The J. A. Logan Granite Company's quarry 33
Other dimension stone quarries 33
The Barnhardt quarry 33
The Bear Poplar gabbro quarry 34
The Woodleaf quarry 34
Other granite areas , 35
Phillips Mountain 35
Powlers Mountain 35
Area of porphyritic granite 35
Basic rocks . 35
Guilford County 35
The McLeansville quarry 35
The Guil quarry 36
The Jamestown quarry 36
The High Point quarry ___ 37
The Buchanan quarry 37
The Pearman quarry 37
Other granite areas 37
Browns Summit and vicinity 37
Summerfield and vicinity 38
Greensboro area 38
Basic rocks , 38
Forsyth County 38
The Piedmont quarry _-_ 38
Abandoned quarry (Piedmont) 39
Snyder property 39
The W. E. Graham quarry 40
Basic dikes 40
Caswell County 40
The Pelham quarry 40
The State quarry 40
TABLE OF CONTENTS—CONTINUED
Davidson, Iredell, and Davie Counties 41
State quarry 41
Mooresville area 41
Davie County 42
Basic dikes 42
Mecklenburg and Cabarrus Counties 42
Mecklenburg County 42
The Charlotte area 42
State quarry 42
Cabarrus County .-.__ 42
Basic rocks 43
Gaston, Lincoln and Catawba Counties 43
Other counties 43
Alamance County 44
Person County 44
Rockingham County 44
Granites of the Western Piedmont 44
Surry County 45
The North Carolina Granite Corporation (Mt. Airy quarries) 45
Other areas *r. 46
Granites of the Blue Ridge 47
Swain County 49
Henderson County 49
Transylvania County 49
Clay and Macon Counties : ... 49
Other areas 49
Prospecting, exploration, and quarrying 50
Dimension stone 50
Prospecting and exploration 50
Size of deposits 50
Color and texture 51
Removal of stone from quarry 53
Crushed stone 53
The testing of granite 54
Dimension stone 54
Crushed stone 55
Toughness . 55
Mechanical analysis 56
Economic aspects . 56
Economic value 56
Market value and transportation 56
Dimension stone 56
Crushed stone 57
Production ■.■ 57
Dimension stone 57
Crushed stone 58
Dimension stone 58
Crushed stone 58
Figure 1. Lassiter quarry, Rolesville, Wake County 19
2. Paving blocks (tube mill liners), Balfour quarry, Rowan
3. Principal quarry of Salisbury Granite Industries, Inc.,
Rowan County 32
4. Cutting granite with diamond saws, Mt. Airy quarries,
Surry County 46
5. Idealized cross-section of pit and bench-type quarries 50
6. Plug and feather splitting of granite, J. A. Logan Granite
Company, Rowan County 52
7. Channel bar in working position, the J. A. Logan Granite
Company, Rowan County 52
8. Value of granite in North Carolina, 1901-1950 57
Plate I. Generalized geologic map of North Carolina 7
II. Location map, Northeast Piedmont and parts of the Coastal
III. Location map, Central Piedmont 27
IV. Location map, Western Piedmont and Blue Ridge 48
Table I. Composition of granite and related rocks 1
II. Principal producers of granite in North Carolina 9
III. Results of Los Angeles abrasion tests on some North Caro-
lina granites 55
IV. A percentage relationship of granite production to total value
of minerals produced in North Carolina, 19001950 56
Digitized by the Internet Archive
The widespread deposits of granite and related crystalline rocks and their utilization in the production
of various types of crushed and dimension stone constitute a principal mineral industry in North Carolina.
From a small production prior to 1900, the quarrying and manufacturing of commercial granite in North
Carolina has shown a continued increase, and in 1950 the value of these products amounted to almost one-
third of the total value of minerals and mineral products marketed in the State. According to the latest
published figures (U. S. Bureau of Mines, Minerals Yearbook, 1950), the State ranks first in value of mar-
keted crushed granite and seventh in value of dimension granite output. Unpublished figures for 1952 in-
dicate granite production is still rising in North Carolina. More than 95 percent of the commercial granite
produced in North Carolina comes from the Piedmont Plateau region of the State; however, large deposits,
which offer excellent opportunities for commercial use, are available in the Coastal Plain and Blue Ridge
or Mountain regions.
Throughout the past half -century of expansion in the stone industry of the State such rock types as
sandstone, quartzite, slate, marble, and limestone have contributed appreciably to the overall production
of rock but always have occupied a subordinate position in comparison with the production of granite and
related rocks. The primary reasons for the predominance of granitic rocks as the largest source of com-
mercial stone in North Carolina are related to three conditions of occurrence, as follows: (1) Granite exists
in large volume; (2) the deposits of granite are readily accessible in many localities; and (3) the superior
quality of granite for use as building stone and crushed aggregate has resulted in a perennial market in the
State and outlying areas.
The potential value of the varied stone resources of the State was recognized early, and in 1904 a
systematic study was begun under the direction of the North Carolina Geological Survey for the purpose of
evaluating the granite, sandstone, and marble deposits of North Carolina. The subsequent report, based on
the field and laboratory work done by T. L. Watson and F. B. Laney and titled, "The Building and Orna-
mental Stones of North Carolina," contains detailed information regarding location, mode of occurrence,
uses, physical and chemical characteristics of stone deposits of North Carolina, and the extent of their
utilization. Since its publication in 1906, this report has served as a valuable guide to the stone resources,
especially granite, in North Carolina; however, it is no longer available for public distribution, and the need
for a new report of this type is mandatory in the light .of the increased importance and continuing growth
of the stone industry in the State. Because granite and related crystalline rocks constitute the principal
commercial stone deposits of North Carolina, this report has as its primary purpose a re-evaluation of the
granite resources, and it is designed as a guide to the granite industry and the areas of present and poten-
tial granite production. It contains information pertaining to the economics of rock-quarrying, the origin
and composition of granite, its physical and structural properties, descriptions of the areas in North Caro-
lina in which granites occur and are utilized commercially, the principal methods of granite-quarrying, and
the various methods of testing the durability of both dimension and crushed stone.
METHODS OF INVESTIGATION AND ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
The information contained in this report represents the results of fieldwork done intermittently during
the late summer and early fall of 1952, the winter of 1953, and laboratory work done in the spring of 1953.
.A large part of the work consisted of visiting the more important operating quarries, a few of the pres-
ently abandoned quarry localities, and some potential quarry sites. The general characteristics of the rocks
were studied at the quarries ; quarry superintendents and local inhabitants were consulted concerning the
production and history of each quarry visited; and representative samples of granite were taken at most
operating quarries and some potential quarry sites for petrographic analyses. Measurements of the strike
of the joint systems were made, along with observation of other structural features present in the rock bodies,
and the size and shape of each quarry visited were noted in order that an estimate could be made of the
amount of rock removed. Other significant features, such as, thickness of overburden and depth of rock de-
cay in the quarry areas, were also given attention. The methods of quarrying, transportation facilities,
and equipment used in cutting or crushing at the quarries were also observed during the field investigation.
About a third of the fieldwork was devoted to studies of the quarries in Rowan and Surry Counties, where
2 The Commercial Granites of North Carolina
the dimension granite industry of the State is centered. Laboratory work for the report consisted of mega-
scopic examination of all rock specimens collected and petrographic analyses of the rock types from repre-
sentative granite areas across the State.
The fieldwork and compilation of data for this report were done under the direction of Dr. Jasper L.
Stuckey, State geologist, who also supplied much general information concerning the granites of North
Carolina. Clifton M. Gibbs, a student at North Carolina State College, ably assisted in the field investiga-
tion during August and September 1952. Mr. Gibbs also did a large share of the cartographic work accom-
panying this report.
Grateful acknowledgments are due Messrs. Hosselton and W. W. Rogers of the J. A. Logan Granite Com-
pany ; Messrs. W. L. Harris and G. A. McKenzie of the Harris Granite Quarries Company ; Messrs. J. P.
Frank and John Simmons of the North Carolina Granite Corporation ; Mr. C. R. Deadwyler of the Salisbury
Granite Industries; Mr. L. M. Seawell of the Piedmont Quarries; and Mr. H. S. Satterwhite of the Bryan
Rock and Sand Company for their cooperation in familiarizing the author with quarrying operations and
the general economy of rock-quarrying. The author also wishes to express appreciation for the invaluable
information supplied by the many quarrymen in North Carolina. Mr. A. C. Dodson, geologist, and Mr. H. F.
Waller, Sr., laboratory technician, of the Division of Materials and Testing of the North Carolina State
Highway and Public Works Commission supplied valuable information and test results concerning the test-
ing of crushed stone from commercial and State quarries in North Carolina. For this information, the
writer is greatly indebted. The information gathered in the preparation of this report is in some instances
complemented by various data from the Watson and Laney report of 1906, and many of the petrographic
descriptions herein were taken from that publication.
The term granite as used in this report has general reference to very siliceous, massive plutonic rocks.
In its commercial sense, it includes true granite, granodiorite, quartz-monzonite, and rarely diorite and gab-
Granite as a distinct rock type may be defined as a massive igneous rock of plutonic origin, displaying
a crystalline texture and containing as essential mineral constituents orthoclase or microclinic feldspar,
quartz, and one or more dark iron silicate or ferromagnesian minerals, usually biotite or hornblende. Mus-
covite sometimes occurs with or replaces the ferromagnesian mineral in granite. Most granites also contain
small amounts of plagioclase feldspar, usually a high-soda variety (albite, oligoclase), and a more or less
uniform distribution of one or more of the principal accessory minerals : epidote, magnetite, hematite, zir-
con, apatite, titanite, pyrite, and garnet. The averages of the principal minerals composing samples of
granite from many localities are shown in column 5 of Table I. In instances where the mineral composition
of the rock in a particular deposit fails to conform with the general average but has the appearance of
normal granite (biotite granite), it is referred to in this report as granite or granitic rock, and a clarification
of the general term is made in the petrographic descriptions.
Many of the so-called granites of North Carolina approach more closely the mineral composition of
granodiorite and/or quartz-monzonite than normal granite. Such rocks differ from normal granite only in
containing an excess of plagioclase feldspar and a corresponding decrease in potash feldspar. For example,
granodiorite may be designated as a granite containing an excess of plagioclase over orthoclase and micro-
cline with normal amounts of quartz and biotite or hornblende. Quartz-monzonite contains in essentially
equal proportions plagioclase and orthoclase feldspar, together with quartz and biotite or hornblende. An-
other related rock found somewhat extensively in the central section of the State is termed syenite. Like
the aforementioned types, it is genetically and texturally related and in many ways is like granite in chem-
ical composition. These more or less acid siliceous rocks are often in complex arrangement with diorite and
gabbro types of similar texture and occurrence, and in such areas the term "granite-diorite complex" is used
to indicate the complex arrangement of rock types. Rocks in which the growth of certain mineral constit-
uents is roughly parallel may also contain mineral percentages comparable to the massive plutonic rocks and
are usually termed gneissic-granite, gneissic-granodiorite, or granite-gneiss. Commonly, it is the biotite or
hornblende constituent of gneissic rocks which displays a marked parallelism. Table I lists the chemical
The Commercial Granites of North Carolina ?,
composition of several North Carolina granites and related rocks, together with the chemical composition
and average mineral percentages of the principal rock types.
Table I. Composition of Granite and Related Rocks
2 3 4 5 6
Al 2 Os
Fe 2 3
s and Others***
* Modified after Johannsen
** Modified after Daly
*** Modified after Grout
ORIGIN OF GRANITE
Granites and related rocks are considered in this report as a solidified magma derivative, emplaced
into the crustal portions of the earth while in a viscose liquid or plastic condition. This magma is a siliceous
rock-melt, differentiated by simple density relationships from a subcrustal reservoir of magma in which the
essential mineral components of granite crystallize in a complex but orderly fashion. Many of the crystal-
line rock bodies in the granite areas of the world owe their existence to the solidification of silica-rich mag-
mas within the crustal portions of the earth ; however, in recent years much controversy has centered around
the purported metasomatic or metamorphic origin of granite, processes whereby pre-existing rocks, com-
monly sedimentary rocks, are changed in place to granitic rocks by metasomatic enrichment or solution pri-
vation, accompanied by recrystallization or by recrystallization under stress and without additions from
sources outside the rock. These alteration processes, known as "granitization," are today widely accepted
as the origin of some massive crystalline as well as gneissic rocks of granitic composition. Granites formed
by both processes are present in North Carolina, but the relationship of the granite deposits to the adjacent
rocks is extremely complex, and no attempt was made during the investigation to differentiate between
"metamorphic granites" and igneous granite. However, the author is confident that such a separation can
be accomplished by an intensive field and petrographic study of the massive crystalline rocks and the granite
gneisses of the State that seem most likely to have had a primary sedimentary or previous basic igneous
or metamorphic origin.
DIKES PENETRATING THE GRANITES
Throughout the granite areas of the State, dike materials of several different types have wide distribu-
tion. The types included in the intrusives are acid and basic dikes* and mineral veins, which range in tex-
* Author's Note: Acid dikes are composed largely of potash feldspar, quartz and subordinate amounts of mafic, or iron mag-
nesium silicates. Basic dikes are composed of mafic and femic minerals, plagioclase, subordinate accessories, and little or no
4 The Commercial Granites of North Carolina
ture from that of quartz veins through aplitic, granitoid, pegmatitic, and diabasic, with many of the basic
dikes bearing a notable schistose structure. The dikes and veins may vary from an inch to several hundred
feet in width and show great variation in strike direction.
Acid Dikes and Veins: In the granite areas of the State, veins and dikes of acid composition are dis-
tributed rather uniformly, and in some localized areas they constitute the major rock material. The dikes
and veins range from pegmatitic to aplitic and in a few instances to a granitoid texture but are alike in a
composition in which quartz and feldspar predominate, with more or less biotite as an accessory mineral.
Pegmatite dikes are common, occurring in many of the granite areas and in some of the quarries. They are
composed of white or pink feldspar and quartz grains, ranging from an inch to more than three inches across,
which commonly display complex intergrowth. In most of the dikes, small plates of biotite or muscovite are
found in minor amounts, and occasionally one or more granite accessory minerals are present.
Aplite dikes of exceedingly fine-grained to almost cryptocrystalline texture occur in many granite areas
but are far less common than pegmatite. The most notable localities in which aplite occurs are Wake Coun-
ty, in the areas underlain by granite gneiss, and in northern Alamance County. Few were observed else-
where. In composition, the aplite dikes are remarkably similar to the enclosing granite but generally con-
tain little, if any, plagioclase. According to Watson and Laney, most aplites in the granite areas of the
State should be placed with the "potash aplites." In size, the aplites range from less than one-half inch to
about six inches in width and, so far as observed, occur entirely as dikes.
The presence of granitoid dikes in the granite areas of the State is comparable in occurrence to the peg-
matite but are less abundant. Often associated with pegmatites, these dikes are distinguished by a smaller
and more uniform grain size and sometimes by the conspicuous absence of micaceous or platy minerals,
giving a binary or two-mineral granite. The size of these intrusives is varied, ranging from an inch to sev-
eral feet in width. As a rule, the smaller dikes are composed of binary granite and are found throughout
the granite areas, while the larger normal granite types are restricted more or less to certain localities in
the Central Piedmont and are most abundant in the granite-gabbro-diorite complex. They can be seen pene-
trating both the granite and the gabbro-diorite and are most prevalent in contact zones.
Quartz veins are a common sight in the granite areas and usually show strongest development in the
areas of pegmatitic intrusion. So far as determined, the quartz is restricted largely to joint and other open-
fracture filling but occasionally occurs as "pseudo-veins," formed by the segregation of silica at the time
of the crystallization of the granite magma. The veins range in width from knife-edge to large fissure veins
10 or more feet across and, like the pegmatites, are rather uniformly distributed through the granite areas
of the State.
Basic Dikes: The most striking rocks intruding the granite consist of diabasic and schistose dikes of
basic composition. Ranging in width from several inches to several hundred feet, the dikes are found in
increasing numbers from the Coastal Plain westward into the Piedmont.
Schistose Dikes : This schistosity is developed parallel to the direction of strike and normal to any gneissic
structure in the granite. Contacts with the country rock are sharp. In all localities observed, the basic dikes
cut the quartz veins, which are assumed to coincide with the later phases of granite intrusion. The schistose
dikes, which are most prevalent in the Central Piedmont, are various shades of dark green and are moderately
to highly decomposed. According to Watson and Laney, the principal mineral constituent of the dikes is
hornblende; however, it is likely that both amphiboles and pyroxenes are contained in the composition. The
dikes paralleling the major joint systems in the granite usually show a marked schistosity in the contact
zone with the country rock.
Diabase Dikes: In many localities and often proximately associated with basic schistose dikes are more
or less massive diabase dikes of gabbro composition, which, like the schistose variety, seem to increase in
number westward from the fall line to the Piedmont. Orientation of strike direction can be correlated rough-
ly with principal jointing in the granite. In most localities, weathering of the dike material is in an advanc-
ed stage, and decomposition has imparted a light- to dark-brownish color to the dikes. In a few instances the
decay is reddish brown.
The Commercial Granites of North Carolina 5
PHYSICAL AND STRUCTURAL PROPERTIES OF GRANITE
General: The availability of granite for fine building and monumental purposes is dependent upon varied
factors responsible for its physical makeup, such as, resistance to weathering, desirable color, uniform tex-
ture, an absence of injurious mineral constituents, and a susceptibility to abrasive polish. The principal fac-
tors in this determination are:
Dikes and Veins: The presence of dikes and veins in granite deposits is detrimental to uniformity of the
quarried stone and in some instances weakens the enclosing rock. Small dikes, veins, and veinlets are often
found in great numbers in granite deposits and usually render stone useless as a source of commercial dimen-
Segregations and Inclusions: Mineral segregations and inclusions in granite deposits tend to disturb
textural uniformity, mar the eye appeal of the finished product, and resist polish. The excessive segrega-
tion of biotite, muscovite, and amphiboles is quite common in granitic rocks and should be avoided when
dimension stone of high quality is desired. Occasional small segregations of micaceous or platy minerals do
not detract from the beauty of the stone, nor do they affect the ability to take abrasive polish.
Texture : Texture in igneous rocks has reference to individual grain size and fabric within a given in-
trusive mass and is perhaps the principal requisite of stone for use in building and ornamental work. Tex-
ture in the granites and related rocks ranges from aplitic, through fine-grained, medium-grained, large-
grained, to porphyritic, all of which may or may not show fabric or a systematic arrangement of individual
mineral grains. Textures result from several factors' influencing the change of a magma from a liquid or
plastic state to a consolidated mass. These factors, in order of general importance are rate of cooling, press-
ure, and the presence of mineralizers. In general, rapidly-cooling magmas tend to form rocks of fine-grained
size and uniform texture ; whereas, under similar pressure conditions, slow-cooling masses form rocks made
up of large grains of irregular size. That pressure indirectly influences texture is well agreed upon, but the
degree of influence is purely theoretical. The gases held in solution under pressure are responsible for certain
controls, since it is believed that gases dissolved in magmatic water (mineralizers) control the viscosity of
the magma. With the partial release of pressure, the gases volatilize, remain in the rock-melt, and appar-
ently reduce the viscosity of the magma, thus permitting a more rapid diffusion and subsequent growth of
larger crystals to produce a porphyritic or large-grained rock. If pressures on the crystallizing magma are
absent, the gases escape rapidly and a rock of finer texture results. Intermediate conditions undoubtedly
exist, so that, many grain sizes are possible, depending on differences in pressure and the consequent volume
of mineralizers allowed to remain in the rock melt. In addition to the normal functions in the granite magma,
the escaping of the mineralizers is probably instrumental in the extension of a granite body by gaseous liquid
assimilation or granitization of the surrounding older rocks. The principal grain sizes or textures reflecting
pressure and relative temperature present during the solidification of granite magma fall into four general
(1) Granite porphyry, or very coarse-grained granite, is composed of mineral grains more than one inch
across. The feldspars are most frequently the largest grains in granite porphyries and usually show complex
intergrowth with large quartz grains, as in graphic granite and alaskite. The common accessory minerals —
biotite, muscovite, and hornblende — generally remain considerably smaller than either feldspar or quartz;
however, they may grow comparatively large, perhaps one or more inches across. Such occurrences of mus-
covite are found in the "alaskite" bodies in Western North Carolina. In some instances granite porphyries
are quarried as dimension stone, but no rocks of this texture are known to be worked for this purpose in North
(2) Large-grained granite consists of mineral grains one-half to one inch across. In the case of a granite
of this texture, the feldspars also constitute the largest grain size and the accessory minerals, the smallest.
(3) Medium textures or even-granular granites are in greatest demand in the building and ornamental
trade and may be considered to include those stones with individual mineral grains ranging from one twenty-
fifth to one-half inch across. Smaller grains may exist within the rock in a subsidiary amount, acting as a
6 The Commercial Granites of North Carolina
groundmass for the larger grains, but generally constitute a very small fraction of the total volume of the
(4) Fine-grained granite is composed of mineral grains less than one twenty-fifth of an inch across and
usually shows an even-granular texture.
Rift and Grain : Because granite is the hardest natural building stone and the most expensive to quarry
and shape into a usable form, it is usual, preceding and during quarrying operations for dimension stone, to
consider the two physical properties known in the quarrying industry as rift and grain. Rift is the direction
along which the artificial fracturing of granite can be accomplished with greatest ease, and grain is a second
direction of splitting, less strongly marked and usually at right angles to the rift. Both may be considered
as obscure foliation of microscopic dimension, on the order of 0.09 mm. to 0.13 mm. in width. Rift and grain
permit straight and relatively smooth breaks in the rock and add facility in quarrying and finishing methods.
The origin of rift and grain is obscure, although according to Dale (Dale, T. N., 1923) the two "fracture
systems" result largely from the orientation or lining-up of the mineral constituents of the rock (primary or
secondary foliation). However, rift and grain in granitic rocks may also result from the parallelism of
cleavage directions of the minerals, by incipient or microscopic jointing caused by internal or external forces
acting upon the intrusion, or by a parallel arrangement of fluidal cavities present in the quartz grains.
Sheeting: The vertical thickness of dimension granite is dependent upon either a natural or artificially-
produced plane, running approximately parallel to the surface of the deposit and in essence dividing the body
into sheets or layers of near-uniform thickness. The thickness of the sheeting plane (bottom joints) varies
considerably from quarry to quarry, often being from 1 to 10 feet or more in dimension, and generally in-
creases with depth. Natural sheeting planes, like rift and grain, are obscure as to origin ; however, Dale con-
siders in some detail most of the theories advanced concerning their origin and concludes their existence is
primarily the result of the release of compressive strain. Sheeting is considered by the writer as the result
of a progressive release of compressive strain during the erosion of overlying material, coupled with the
expansion of the mineral constituents of the granite in response to solar heat. Sheeting, although not al-
ways present in plutonic rocks, is present in most commercial granite areas in North Carolina. The notable
exceptions are the Mt. Airy district in Surry County and the Salisbury area of Rowan County, where arti-
ficial induction of sheeting is necessary for the successful quarrying of dimension stone of uniform thickness.
A description of this method is presented in the section on quarrying.
Color: Uniformity of color over a large areal extent is a desirable feature in the marketing of granite
for use in building and ornamental work. If colors are consistent, granite from a certain locality becomes
famous through the years, and the demand for the stone continues to increase. The colors in granite are in
large part dependent upon the intensity of chroma of the predominant feldspar, although mafic minerals,
tinted muscovite, and quartz may contribute appreciably to the overall color of a stone. Characteristic colors
are red, pink, gray, and "white." Granite deposits generally display a variety of colors.
Joints: Most granitic masses are traversed by one or more sets of vertical or nearly vertical joints, re-
ferred to as the "major systems" and the "secondary systems." The major system consists of two planes
of jointing which intersect at or near 90 degrees and are usually accompanied by one or more secondary sets
which form a junction at an angle more or less than 90 degrees. It is believed that these systems result from
compressive or torsional strain, resolved into two components, each at an angle of 45 degrees with the strain-
General: The physical and structural properties of stone for crushing are important considerations in
both the quarrying procedures desired and the ultimate use to which it will be put. Toughness and hardness
of the rock influence the cost of production, and the soundness of stone determines its fitness for general use.
Toughness and Hardness : The toughness of a stone is a measure of its resistance to impact, and hard-
ness is a property based upon resistance to surface abrasion. Both of the properties are determined by the
individual mineral percentages, the degree of weathering, the texture, and the fabric of the rock. The test-
ing and determination of both these properties is accomplished in various ways, some of which will be dis-
cussed in a subsequent section.
The Commercial Granites of North Carolina
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8 The Commercial Granites of North Carolina
Soundness : The soundness of crushed stone has reference to its resistance to weathering, more specific-
ally, its resistance to deterioration resulting from repeated freezing and thawing. The rapidity of disinte-
gration of stone subjected to freezing and thawing is dependent upon several factors resulting from its
physical and chemical makeup. They are the number and size of microscopic pore spaces, or interior voids,
and their susceptibility to filling by water. Numerous tests, none of them standardized, have been devised
for the acceleration and measurement of resistance to freezing and thawing, one of which will be discussed
in the section concerned with the testing of granite.
Structurally, granitic bodies utilized in the production of crushed stone need not meet the rigid re-
quirements necessary in dimension-stone quarrying. Joint planes may be prevalent, closely spaced, and in
complex arrangement within the rock mass. Color, texture, segregations, and inclusions are normally of
little or no significance.
GEOGRAPHIC DISTRIBUTION OF GRANITE AND RELATED ROCKS
Granites and related rocks in North Carolina crop out or lie at shallow depths over approximately one-
fifth of the total area of the State ; however, the area of present, past, or potential productivity is consider-
ably smaller. In much of the area of occurrence, granitic rocks lie below a thick mantle of residual decay,
but in some localities the mantle is thin or absent and the rock sound. Even in some of these localities,
shallow-lying or exposed rock may be weathered sufficiently to render it unsuitable for commercial uses
prior to the removal of partially decayed granite or sap rock. The area in which granites and related rocks
are present in North Carolina is divided geographically into the three major physiographic provinces of the
State, namely, the Blue Ridge or Appalachian Mountains, the Piedmont Plateau, and the Coastal Plain. This
physiographic division into provinces is based upon distinct geologic features, in the order of their impor-
tance: topography, geologic structure, and lithology.
Blue Ridge: Eastward from the Tennessee line for distances ranging from 15 to 50 miles lies in the Blue
Ridge Province, an area characterized by rugged, though somewhat subdued, mountainous terrain and deep,
constricted valleys, developed predominantly in schists and gneisses of purported pre-Cambrian age. Intru-
sive granitic rocks of pre-Cambrian and Paleozoic ages are present in many scattered localities. Structurally,
the rocks are complexly folded into highly contorted and faulted anticlines and synclines within a broad regional
synclinorium. Thrust faulting is not uncommon. Elevations range from 6,000 feet in the west to a minimum
of 2,000 feet near the contact with rocks of the Piedmont Plateau to the east.
Piedmont Plateau: Passing rather abruptly from the eastern limits of the Blue Ridge, the topography
assumes the less precipitous proportions characteristic of a submontaine or foothill region, in which low
rounded hills, flat upland divides, and shallow, generally mature, valleys constitute the predominant topo-
graphic features. The general high-elevation surfaces, attested by the upper surfaces of rounded hills, rep-
resent remnants of an uplifted peneplane upon which streams flowing consequent and /or subsequent to re-
gional slope and structure, respectively, have maturely dissected the land surface in cutting to present levels.
The principal rocks of the Piedmont include pre-Cambrian (?) and late Paleozoic granite and other massive
crystalline rocks, pre-Cambrian gneisses and schists, and lower Paleozoic meta-volcanics and meta-sediments,
all of which are more or less structurally related to the rocks of the Blue Ridge. Elevations in the Piedmont
Plateau range from 300 to 1,500 feet, and the province extends from the Blue Ridge eastward for 150 to 200
miles to the fall line of the Coastal Plain.
Coastal Plain: The Atlantic Coastal Plain in North Carolina is physiographically distinguished on the
basis of the gently dipping, mostly unconsolidated, Cretaceous and Cenozoic marine and continental sediments
forming an extensive, nearly flat plain, slightly incised by consequent streams. Inliers of meta-volcanics,
meta-sediments, gneisses, schists, and granitic rocks are fairly common in portions adjacent to the Pied-
mont. Elevations range from near 400 feet along the fall line to sea level in the east. The maximum width
is approximately 125 miles.
The Commercial Granites of North Carolina 9
Each of the three principal areas is discussed in this report, and for convenience in writing, the State
is divided, as follows :
I — Coastal Plain
II — Piedmont Plateau
1. Northeast Piedmont
2. Central Piedmont
3. Western Piedmont
III— Blue Ridge.
Plate I shows the confines of the above areas and the age relations of the principal rock types. It will be
observed also that the principal occurrences of the granites and related rocks tend to form belts, which trend
northeast-southwest and essentially parallel the Appalachian Mountains. The greater part of the commer-
cial granites in North Carolina lies within the confines of the Piedmont Plateau Province, though small work-
able deposits occur in the western portion of the Coastal Plain and at scattered localities within the Blue Ridge.
In most of the counties in which granites occur some quarrying operations have been carried out, al-
though many are quite small and are at present of little or no commercial importance. Only the large opera-
tions perennially contribute to the total mineral production in the State, the areas of greatest importance
being: (1) Salisbury, Rowan County; (2) Woodleaf, Rowan County; (3) Mt. Airy, Surry County; (4) Roles-
ville, Wake County; (5) Sims, Wilson County; (6) Greystone, Vance County; (7) McLeansville, High Point,
Jamestown, Greensboro, and Stokesdale, Guilford County; (8) Pelham, Caswell County; and, (9) Winston-
Salem, Forsyth County. Crushed stone is the principal product of seven of the areas listed, and dimension
stone is the most important product in the Mt. Airy and Salisbury areas. In addition to those listed, many
quarries are operated on a noncommercial basis by the North Carolina State Highway and Public Works
Commission for the production of crushed stone for local road and highway maintenance. Table II lists the
principal producers of granite in North Carolina.
Table II. Principal Producers of Granite in North Carolina
Company Principal Product Quarry Location Geographic Division
Bryan Rock & Sand Co.
Lassiter Quarry Crushed Stone Rolesville Northeast Piedmont
Neverson Quarry Crushed Stone Sims Coastal Plain
Buchanan Stone Co Crushed Stone Greensboro Central Piedmont
Greystone Granite Quarries Co.
Greystone Quarry Crushed Stone Greystone Northeast Piedmont
Harris Granite Quarries Co.
Balfour Quarry Dimension Stone Granite Quarry Central Piedmont
Carolina Quarry Dimension Stone Granite Quarry Central Piedmont
J. A. Logan Granite Co.
Faith Quarry Dimension Stone Faith Central Piedmont
Lambert Brothers, Inc.
Pelham Quarry Crushed Stone Pelham Central Piedmont
North Carolina Granite Corp.
Mt. Airy Quarries Dimension Stone Mt. Airy Western Piedmont
Piedmont Quarries Co.
■ Winston-Salem Quarry Crushed Stone Winston-Salem Central Piedmont
Guil Quarry Crushed Stone Stokesdale Central Piedmont
Salisbury Granite Industries, Inc.
Collins-Durax Quarries ...Dimension Stone Granite Quarry Central Piedmont
Superior Stone Company
McLeansville Quarry Crushed Stone McLeansville Central Piedmont
Woodleaf Quarry Crushed Stone Woodleaf Central Piedmont
High Point Quarry Crushed Stone High Point Central Piedmont
CCC Quarry Crushed Stone Jamestown Central Piedmont
State of North Carolina Crushed Stone Various Localities All Divisions
( Noncommercial )
10 The Commercial Granites of North Carolina
GRANITES OF THE COASTAL PLAIN
The Coastal Plain Province of North Carolina covers approximately two-fifths of the area of the State
and includes 45 counties. The geographic separation of this province from the adjacent Piedmont is based
on several prominent geologic features previously discussed and shown on Plate I. , The line dividing the
Coastal Plain from the Piedmont is hypothetical, in that it marks approximately the present westward ex-
tent in the State of sedimentary sands and clays belonging to the Coastal-Plain formations. It is known
that the Cretaceous and younger sediments of the Coastal Plain unconformably overlie metamorphosed, slaty
volcanic and sedimentary rocks and granites. Drilling logs from unpublished reports of oil exploration
wells on the Coastal Plain report granite or slate as the basement rock, the granite being considered the
younger rock because of similar types known to intrude rocks of the Volcanic-Slate Series in the Northeast
Piedmont. The relatively small outcrops of granite within the Coastal Plain of North Carolina, therefore,
represent inliers of the extensive subsurface crystalline rocks from which thin, loosely consolidated sedi-
ments have been eroded. The stripping of the Coastal-Plain sediments from the granites has taken place
largely in areas adjacent to the major streams and their principal tributaries, near the contact with rocks
of the Piedmont Plateau. Most of the outcrops in these areas tend to form elongated masses of ledge-like
and boulder form and in cases where the outcrop is back from the stream, low, flat, or dome-like bodies.
The principal granite areas are found in Wilson, Edgecombe, Nash, Pitt, Anson, and Richmond Coun-
ties. In only one of these areas — at Sims in Wilson County — is granite being produced commercially; how-
ever, other deposits may merit investigation as future sources, especially in the Wadesboro-Rockingham
area of Anson and Richmond Counties and around Rocky Mount in Edgecombe County. In almost all of the
areas of fresh outcrop in the Coastal Plain, more or less systematic quarrying for dimension stone was done
in the past, but it is doubtful that the rock in many of these areas will be utilized further.
With the exception of a few small areas, the entire central and eastern parts of Wilson County are cov-
ered by a thin veneer of Coastal-Plain sediments, overlying granite, volcanic slates, gneisses, and schists.
The western portion of the county lies within the eastern prong of the Volcanic-Slate Series, but in a few
localities granite has penetrated these older rocks and crops out at the surface as low dome-like masses.
CONTENTNEA CREEK AREA
About two miles south of Wilson on U. S. Highway 301, fresh granite is exposed through the sediments
on both sides of Contentnea Creek for several miles upstream and along the adjacent areas a short distance
back from the stream. The granite occurs as large boulders in the stream and as flat-surface masses in
adjacent areas. It is a uniformly coarse-grained rock of dull pinkish-red color, becoming porphyritic in
some places. Feldspar is the predominant mineral constituent of the granite, composing about 80 percent
of the total volume, while quartz constitutes approximately 15 percent. Biotite, largely altered to chlorite,
and a very small amount of apatite make up the remainder of the rock. Three sets of joints separate the
granite into blocks of various sizes, striking almost N., N. 65° W., and N. 50° E. None of the joints are
filled with vein or dike materials. Watson and Laney describe a section of the rock petrographically, as
"Plagioclase nearly equals in amount the potash feldspar, which consists mostly of orthoclase
though some microcline occurs. Plagioclase is in very large laths, finely striated and corresponds
in physical properties to albite. The feldspars are extensively altered to kaolin and muscovite. . . .
Quartz is in very large grains interlocking with the feldspar and will probably not exceed 15 per-
cent of the entire rock."
The rock falls into the type defined by mineral composition as quartz-monzonite. The rock is of good qual
ity and appearance but is poorly situated for utilization as commercial stone.
This area contains a small body of granite, forming the main deposit on which the Neverson Quarry
is located. It lies about one mile west of Sims along U. S. Highway 301 and immediately adjacent to the
The Commercial Granites of North Carolina 11
Norfolk and Southern Railway. Though the area lies outside the Coastal Plain, it is discussed here because
of close proximity to the fall line and further because it is located within a county lying partly within
the Coastal Plain Province. The deposit is a conspicuous dome-like outcrop, covered in most places by 5
to 40 feet of reddish-pink to buff colored granite residuum, which contains a few boulders of exfoliation.
The rock body is moderately sheared, but only two prominent planes of jointing were detected. The strikes
of these joints were measured as N. and N. 65° E. Evidence of shear is especially prevalent in the rocks
forming the west perimeter of the roughly circular pit quarry, the granite appearing badly mashed and brok-
en and the joint systems hardly detectable. (For quarry type, see page 50.)
The rock is a medium-grained, pinkish-gray granite, containing abundant orthoclase, smoky quartz,
and minor amounts of biotite and pyrite. In some places in the quarry, notably the highly sheared parts, a
thin veneer of epidote coats the joint surfaces and in some instances replaces the pink feldspar. Many inter-
growths of orthoclase and quartz can be seen in a hand specimen of the rock. This renders toughness to
the rock, making it an excellent crushed product for road surfacing and concrete aggregate. Results of
Los Angeles abrasion tests on the stone are shown in Table III, page 55. A petrographic analysis of granite
from the Neverson Quarry by the U. S. Bureau of Public Roads shows the following minerals and their per-
Biotite : 4%
Calcite '. 1%
Muscovite 0.4 %
According to this thin-section analysis, the Neverson Quarry rock is a normal or biotite granite, which has
been subjected to mineral enrichment by thermal waters or normal near-surface ground waters. The altera-
tion is made apparent by the presence of calcite, a mineral not associated with the crystallization of silicic
magmas. The pyrite and epidote are also of secondary origin.
The Neverson Quarry was first opened in 1917 for the production of road metal and jetty stone and
continued in operation until it was closed in 1927. Production was resumed for about one year between
1938 and 1939, but the quarry was closed again and was not reopened until 1940, from which time pro-
duction has continued and enlarged to the present day. The principal products from the quarry, in order of
general importance, are concrete aggregate, road metal, and railroad ballast. Crushed material from the
quarry is shipped by rail to many cities in the Coastal Plain and is reported to be a chief source of stone
received in Norfolk, Virginia.
ELM CITY AREA
The Elm City granite area includes about 15 to 20 acres of boulder outcrops and nearly flat surface
masses of granite, two miles NNE. of the town of Elm City and along the Atlantic Coast Line Railroad. In
the approximate center of the area of outcrop, quarrying of the granite has been carried on intermittently
for almost a hundred years. The extereme toughness and apparent hardness of granite from this deposit
dismisses it from consideration as an economically available source either of crushed or dimension stone.
No quarrying has been done at the locality in more than 30 years ; however, in the past the quarry furnished
crushed stone to Coastal-Plain cities in North Carolina. The quarry area covers approximately 400 by
600 feet and is reported to be more than 30 feet in depth. It is partially filled with water. Fresh granite
lies below 1 to 30 feet of reddish-tan, clayey residuum, below which exfoliation of the granite is common.
The massive rock is cut by two prominent but widely spaced sets of joints, striking N. 75° W. and N. 40° E.,
and in many places the open fractures have been filled with quartz, coarse feldspathic material, or greenish
schistose dike material composed largely of amphibole and quartz. Small cubes of pyrite are disseminated
through the dike material and the granite. The unfilled joints and fractures are slickensided, and in some
places a thin coating of a yellowish-green mineral, probably damourite (hydro-muscovite), is present on
The rock is light pinkish-gray, medium-grained, and is composed of closely interlocked grains of quartz
and feldspar and a little biotite. The principal accessory minerals include zircon, apatite, ilmenite, and
12 The Commercial Granites of North Carolina
titanite. The stone is very hard and is reported to possess poor working qualities. A thin section of the
granite is described by Watson and Laney, as follows :
"... a biotite granite . . . scattered occasional and partially idiomorphic crystals of compact horn-
blende. Feldspar preponderates and is composed of the potash varieties with much striated acid
plagioclase ... of the composition Abi 2 Ant. The feldspars are clouded from slight alteration into
kaolin and muscovite . . . Quartz forms distinct areas of an interlocking mosaic of smaller grains
than the feldspar through which are scattered occasional feldspar grains and biotite. Biotite is
altered to chlorite."
From the above description, which lacks definite percentage relations, the rock probably should be placed
in the type previously defined as granodiorite ; the rock, however, may represent an example of quartz-mon-
EDGECOMBE AND NASH COUNTIES
In only a small area in Edgecombe County, located near the Nash County line, do granite and older
rocks crop out above the Coastal-Plain sediments. To the west, in Nash County, granite and volcanic slates
occupy the entire area with the exception of two narrow strips of sediments to the north and south, re-
spectively, in the eastern portion of the county. Nash County is discussed with the Coastal-Plain counties
because of the relation and continuity of the outcrops, beginning in western Edgecombe County and continu-
ing westward along the Tar River into Nash. Large boulder outcrops of granite first appear about one-half
mile north of Rocky Mount, in Edgecombe County along U. S. Highway 301, continue northward for approx-
imately one-half mile, and are best exposed on both sides of the Tar River near the junction of N. C. High-
way 43 and Highway 301. Westward from this junction, the granite is traced for several miles into Nash
County by small boulder or flat-surface outcrops. The exposures in the area described merit investigation
as a possible source of stone for crushing. In this area, granite has intruded schist and gneiss. The out-
crops of granite in the river and along its banks near the highway junction were examined and found to
consist of pink and gray feldspar, quartz, and fine books of biotite. The texture of the granite varies from
fine to large and to porphyritic, but in all size phases the rock is even-granular and is a light pinkish-gray.
Segregations of quartz are present in some of the outcrops. The outcrops are generally fresh and firm,
though some of the boulder-like exposures show exfoliation. Four sets of joints, cutting the rock into blocks
of various sizes, strike N., N. 40° E., N. 30° W., and N. 75° W. and in some places are very closely spaced.
Vein material, consisting of quartz and fine-grained pegmatite, occupies some of the joints. The following
petrographic description of the stone was taken from the Watson and Laney report :
". . . closely interlocked aggregate of feldspar, quartz, and biotite. Orthoclase and microcline have
about equal distribution through the section with but little plagioclase indicated. . . . Biotite . . .
is partly altered to chlorite. ... A few scattered grains of black iron oxide and inclusions of pris-
matic apatite and zircon complete the list of minerals in the rock."
The rock is a normal or biotite granite.
With the exception of a small area near Fountain in the extreme western portion, where granite gneiss
is exposed, Pitt County is covered entirely by Coastal-Plain sediments. The occurrence of granite in Pitt
County is discussed briefly here because it represents the easternmost appearance in the Coastal Plain of a
granite or related rock, not because of any particular commercial possibilities offered by the rock.
The area of outcrop lies just outside the southern corporate limits of Fountain and consist of 2 or 3 acres
of nearly flat surface outcrops of a gneissoid rock of granitic composition. The unweathered rock is an ex-
tremely tough (hard), massive granite, containing dark-colored gneissic inclusions and a few widely spaced,
mineral-filled joints, which strike approximately N. and E. The joints are filled with one- to two-inch veins
of milky quartz, containing in some places a little feldspar. The inclusions range from one-fourth of an
inch to more than 2 feet across and are quite prevalent in some parts of the deposit. The residual overbur-
den consists of about two inches of yellowish-brown, gritty clay. Bottom joints in the rock are well devel-
The Commercial Granites of North Carolina 13
oped and cut the deposits into sheets 6 to 18 inches in thickness. A small amount of dimension stone was
removed from this deposit for local use as late as 1938, and it is reported to work very poorly and with great
difficulty. Although the stone is a pleasing light gray color, it is doubtful that it will be of commercial use
because of the extreme toughness and lack of workability.
Megascopically, the rock is a highly siliceous, medium-grained granite-gneiss, containing quartz, feld-
spar, biotite, and iron oxide. A thin section of the rock shows the following mineral composition :
Quartz 36 %
Orthoclase (much microcline) 47%
Biotite hornblende 9%
Other (magnetite, apatite, chlorite, caicite) 3%
According to the analysis, this stone falls into the gneissic-granite class as previously denned.
ANSON AND RICHMOND COUNTIES
THE WADESBORO-ROCKINGHAM AREA
The Wadesboro-Rockingham granite area extends from about two miles west of Rockingham, in Rich-
mond County, westward to within three miles of Wadesboro, in -Anson County. Although outcrops of fresh
granite are rather rare, the presence of extensive deposits lying beneath granite residuum is recognized
by the color and partially decayed mineral components of the residual material. In many places Coastal-
Plain sediments overlie the granite or its disintegrated product, but in general these deposits are spotty.
Granite showing the least degree of weathering is exposed best along and immediately south of the
Seaboard Air Line Railroad, beginning about 2.5 miles west of Rockingham and appearing in the deeper
cuts almost to Wadesboro. In some of the cuts, the granite is essentially fresh, while in others the effects
of weathering have rendered the rock unsuitable for commercial use. Other exposures of interest can be
seen in the deeper cuts along U. S. Highway 74, west of Rockingham, and in the vicinity of Lilesville and
Bonsai, about 4 miles east of Wadesboro. These exposures are moderately to strongly weathered and ap-
pear as bed-like ledges on both sides of the highway. Complete decay has progressed to great depth along
the fractures cutting the deposit and to an overall depth of about 15 feet in the massive portions of the
deposit. Fresh outcrops of granite appear over a rather extensive area south of the railroad and west of
the Pee Dee River. Irregular patches of Coastal-Plain sediments cover the granite in many parts of this
area ; however, boulders and ledge-like and flat-surface masses of granite are quite numerous in other locales
within the same area. Prominent flat-surface and boulder outcrops of fresh granite can be seen along U. S.
Highway 52, beginning about 2 miles south of Wadesboro. Jointed structure is well developed in the gran-
ite exposures of the area and is generally spaced so as to subdivide the deposit into blocks of large dimension.
Measurements of the joints show the following strikes : Bonsai area, N. 70° E., N. 20° W., and N. ; south of
Wadesboro, N. 30° E. and N. 60° W.
The granite in the Wadesboro-Rockingham area is fairly uniform both in texture and color, generally
being of large to porphyritic texture and ranging in color from pinkish gray to light pink. Most color and
textural combinations produce a pleasing appearance. In none of the outcrop areas visited was a medium-
grained granite found. In the porphyritic phase, the rock is composed of grains of biotite up to one-fourth
of an inch across, quartz grains up to three-fourths of an inch across, and feldspars, some of which show
idiomorphic crystal outline, up to one and one-fourth inches across. In the large-grained phases of the rock,
the quartz and feldspar grains are about equal in size and the biotite, about half as large. It is interesting
to note the presence of subrounded quartz grains in some of the outcrops of large-grained granite, their
presence being especially pronounced in the highly weathered, friable zones. The rocks containing the sub-
rounded quartz grains noticeably lack idiomorphic feldspars.
A moderately weathered hand specimen of large-grained material taken from an exposure along U. S.
Highway 74 near Bonsai has the following mineral composition:
14 The Commercial Granites of North Carolina
A microscopic examination by Watson and Laney of a specimen taken near Rockingham shows the follow-
ing characteristics :
". . . an aggregate of quartz and feldspar with considerable biotite. Potash feldspars with nearly
equal or greater proportion of plagioclase make up the feldspathic constituent, which shows some
alteration. ... A few scattered grains of magnetite are distributed through the section. . . ."
On the basis of the incomplete petrographic analysis, the rock of the area should be classified quartz-mon-
In general, the thick residual material overlying the granite deposits in the Wadesboro-Rockingham
area, coupled with the availability of gravel from the Coastal-Plain formations, has to a large extent dis-
couraged the commercial production of granite. This is espescially true in regard to a crushed-stone in-
dustry, which would be unable to compete with natural gravel production in the area. In most localities
the initial depth to fresh rock generally constitutes a stripping problem likely to prevent the utilization of
the granite for dimension stone ; but, despite this problem, the fresh granite is of a good quality and pleasing
appearance and merits investigation in some areas as a potential source of stone for this purpose. Produc-
tion in the area has been limited to several small openings near Rockingham for the quarrying of stone for
local use early in the century. No production is reported from either Anson County or Richmond County at
The granitic rocks within the Wadesboro-Rockingham area are the first in the granite areas of the State
to show large-scale penetration by basic-rock dikes of either a diabasic texture or schistose structure. As
will be noted later, dikes of this character are quite prevalent in the Piedmont section of the State but up to
this point are found sparingly on the Coastal Plain. The largest of the dikes in the area is exposed in the
western part of Rockingham, near the old Great Falls Cotton Mills building on U. S. Highway 74. The
dike rock is a hard, dense, diabase-like rock, containing much epidote, which imparts a greenish color to the
rock, and large irregular areas of quartz. According to Watson and Laney, the dike is more than a hundred
feet wide, strikes about N., and is referred to as a greenstone-diabase dike. Although the Rockingham dike
is the largest, it is only one of many which outcrop in the area. All are diabasic or schistose and strike
north or a few degrees west of north.
GRANITES OF THE PIEDMONT PLATEAU
The Piedmont Plateau in North Carolina, lying between the Coastal Plain and the Blue Ridge, is second
in size among the geographic divisions of the State but contains approximately 95 percent of the commer-
cial granite deposits. The granites in this province have been utilized more or less in both domestic and
large-scale commercial production for more than a hundred years, and the dimension granites from this
region have, since 1900, been well known throughout the United States and other parts of the world as
superior quality monumental and building stone. As shown on Plate I, the Piedmont region comprises three
distinct granite areas : the Northeast Piedmont, the Central Piedmont, and the Western Piedmont.
Northeast Piedmont: The rocks of the northeastern part of the Piedmont Plateau include several belts
of granitic rocks, separated by gneisses, schists, and volcanic slates. The granite deposits of the North-
east Piedmont rank second in volume but last in value of the commercial stone produced in the Piedmont.
Central Piedmont: The Central Piedmont includes the largest body of granitic rocks in the entire State,
along with the main belt of the Volcanic-Slate Series and a narrow band of gneisses and schists, all of which
trend northeast across the State. The granite and related rocks — quartz-monzonite, granodiorite, syenite,
diorite, and gabbro — occurring in the Central Piedmont comprise the most valuable commercial rock deposits
in North Carolina.
Western Piedmont: The Western Piedmont division of the State is underlain largely by gneisses and
schists, though in certain localities granite has penetrated the older material and outcrops in northeast
trending belts. In much of the region the granites are gneissic. In volume of commercial granite, the West-
The Commercial Granites of North Carolina
GRANITE AND RELATED ROCKS
tt ACTIVE QUARRY
AND PARTS OF THE
O 10 av ' M, - t 20 30
16 The Commercial Granites of North Carolina
ern Piedmont ranks third; in production, however, it is second, due to the extensive quarrying operations
at Mt. Airy, in Surry County.
Dark colored diabase and schistose dikes of basic composition are most prevalent in the Piedmont
Plateau and are mentioned in the descriptions of the individual areas.
GRANITES OF THE NORTHEAST PIEDMONT
The area included within the Northeast Piedmont begins at the fall line, or the line along which the
Coastal-Plain sediments are in contact with rock types of the Piedmont Plateau, and extends westward
across the granites, slates, and Triassic sediments to the contact with the main belt of volcanic slates, com-
prising a part of the Central Piedmont. It also includes one granite area west of the Triassic-Slate con-
tact in Orange County. The Virginia line constitutes the northern limit of the district, and an inland ex-
tension of the Coastal-Plain sediments forms the boundary to the south through central Johnston and Har-
nett Counties. (See Plate II.)
The counties comprising the division which are partially underlain by granitic rocks include: Wake,
Vance, Franklin, Warren, Granville, Northampton, Orange, Halifax, Johnston, and Chatham. Nash County
and western Wilson County are also within the geographic confines of this area but have been discussed
with the Coastal Plain because of the continuity of the underlying granite deposits with those present in
Edgecombe County and central Wilson County in the Coastal Plain Province. The principal occurrences of
granite in the Northeast Piedmont form finger-like bodies, extending southward across the area from the
Virginia line. The largest of these bodies extends across Warren County, Franklin County, and eastern
Wake County into the northwestern part of Johnston County and represents the southernmost extension of
granite in the belt. Over most of the area, the rocks are covered by thick, buff to reddish-brown, granite
residuum. The principal outcrop areas are of boulder or ledge-like form and are observed best along and
adjacent to the major drainage and in deep highway and railroad cuts. The outcrops, though similar to
those of the Coastal Plain, are in most instances larger in areal extent. The delineation of the granite de-
posits, as shown on Plate II, is based largely on the color and other physical characteristics of the residual
material in the area but is not nearly so difficult to determine as in the Coastal Plain because outcrops of
fresh and sap granite are more numerous. The principal outcrop areas, hence the largest areas of present
and past productivity, are located in Wake and Vance Counties. Present commercial production is restricted
largely to the Rolesville area in Wake County and the Greystone area in Vance County, where large ton-
nages of granite are crushed and marketed as concrete aggregate, road metal, and railroad ballast. Other
quarries and small openings are found throughout the Northeast Piedmont but are abandoned at present.
The importance of granite-gneiss in this area should be noted, since most of the past quarrying for build-
ing stone was done in the vicinity of Raleigh, in an area underlain largely by gneisses of probably primary
sedimentary origin. So far as could be determined, former granite-gneiss workings near Raleigh represent
the largest quarrying of gneisses east of the Blue Ridge. One small quarry in the vicinity of Raleigh is en-
gaged in the production of dimension stone to supply local demand. This operation utilizes a granite-gneiss,
locally called "Wakestone."
The commercial granite potential, including gneiss, in the Northeast Piedmont can be considered unlim-
ited. The rocks are generally firm on outcrop and below the residual overburden, and the many abandoned
openings formerly utilizing the granite in the production of dimension stone offer deposits which can be
expanded readily in the production of crushed stone. Dikes and veins of varied composition are found in all
parts of the Northeast Piedmont and where prevalent are discussed with the descriptions of individual areas.
Except for a narrow north-south trending band of Triassic sediments and volcanic slates along the west-
ernmost boundary, Wake County is underlain by granitic rocks of two genetic types. Occupying the eastern
and east-central part of the county are true plutonic rocks largely of granitic composition and medium-
grained texture. Granite-gneiss and micaceous schist underlie the remainder of the county west of the
granite belt, beginning along a line passing approximately 2 miles east of Raleigh. (See Plate II.)
The Commercial Granites of North Carolina 17
raleigh granite area
Many years ago rather extensive quarrying operations were carried on in the immediate vicinity of
Raleigh for the production of dimension and crushed stone for local use. The State Capitol building and
many of the older churches and homes of the city are constructed of a granite-gneiss, locally called "Wake-
stone." This type stone is a uniformly fine- to medium-grained rock of approximate granitic composition,
usually displaying a marked parallelism of all mineral constituents. Colors range from light gray to grayish
tan, which upon exposure weathers to a mottled tan. Large blocks of the stone almost inevitably show pene-
tration by aplite or fine-grained pegmatitic material. Wakestone was formerly obtained from three large
quarries, two of which were within the corporate limits of Raleigh.
The City Quarries: Two large openings were worked in the vicinity of the National Cemetery, about
1.5 miles east of the Capitol building, beginning about 1833 and continuing intermittently until after 1903.
Stone from these quarries was used in the construction of the State Capitol buiding. According to Watson
and Laney, jointing in the rocks of this area is at fairly close intervals and strikes approximately E. Within
the quarries, many areas of mineral segregation are present and usually occur as vein-like bodies, conforming
to an approximate N. strike. The vein and dike materials consist of pegmatite, aplite, and quartz, and all
show evidence of minor displacement since intrusion.
Petrographically, Watson and Laney describe Wakestone, as follows:
". . . in order of their abundance . . . feldspar, quartz and biotite. The feldspathic constituent
consists of the potash varieties, orthoclase and microcline, with a nearly equal proportion of striated
acid plagioclase. Microcline nearly equals orthoclase in amount. . '. . micropoikilitic structure is
fairly well developed. . . . Biotite is distributed through the sections. . . . Zircon and apatite ...
complete the list of minerals."
Based on the definitions given earlier in this report, Wakestone from these quarries falls into the class quartz-
The Sutton Quarry : A recent revival of interest in Wakestone for building purposes has resulted in the
opening of a small quarry in north Raleigh, near Lassiter Mill. According to Mr. Sutton, the owner, dimen-
sion stone of small size is used locally to a rather large extent, especially in the building or enlargement of
schools and churches and as a trim stone. Stone from the small quarry is decidedly gneissic and corresponds
in composition with the stone from the old City Quarries. Colors in the deposit are generally a gray-tan to
mottled tan and present a pleasing appearance. The joint systems are well developed, but vein and dike
materials are almost entirely absent.
Other Quarries : Other openings in granite-gneiss were made in Wake County in the vicinity of the State
Penitentiary and 2 miles northwest of Raleigh, both furnishing dimension stone for local use. In general,
the rock type corresponds with that of the City Quarries, though locally it may become more or less gneissic.
The Crabtree Quarry: This small bench-type quarry is located about 3.5 miles northwest of the Raleigh
city limits, 0.75 of a mile south of U. S. Highway 70, and adjacent to Crabtree Creek. Although now aban-
doned, the quarry has in recent years produced crushed stone for county road repairs and remains in excellent
condition for further use. The rock is a light gray granite-gneiss of medium- to large-grained texture, in
which dark silicates are almost entirely absent. Shear is prominent, cutting the deposit into blocks of small,
irregular dimension. A thin section of the rock shows the following minerals and their percentages :
Others (zircon, apatite, tourmaline, magnetite,
calcite, muscovite, sericite) 15%
Accordingly, the rock falls into the class granite-gneiss. Significant features observed in the thin section
were: (1) numerous tangential grain contacts, which constitute the most prominent microscopic charac-
teristic of the rock, (2) the presence of considerable sericite, formed by the alteration of the feldspar con-
stituents, (3) the abundance of accessory minerals, and (4) fine mosaics of quartz filling the interstitial
18 The Commercial Granites of North Carolina
areas in the rock. Within the quarry, numerous small mineral veins, consisting of siderite(?), biotite, and
muscovite, can be found occupying open joints and planes of shear, while other joint surfaces are coated
with muscovite and radiated tourmaline crystals.
ROLESVILLE GRANITE AREA
Dimension Stone Quarry : The quarry is located about 50 feet east of the Rolesville School and within
the southern limits of the community of Rolesville, in northeast Wake County. It is accessible by N. C. High-
way 59. The deposit in which the bench-type quarry is developed outcrops in a gently dipping dome-like
manner over approximately 1500 square feet. A considerable amount of dimension stone has been produced
at this quarry, and though now abandoned it remains in an excellent condition for further operation. The
rock is essentially massive, with only two directions of jointing noted over the entire area of outcrop. It is
a light gray to pinkish-gray granite of uniform medium grain and is essentially unweathered throughout.
In some places, the segregation of biotite interrupts the uniformity of texture, and many thin veins of binary
granite cut the deposit along a northeast strike, which seemingly conforms to the strike of joints, N. 26° E.
and E. Sheeting in the granite is well developed, permitting the quarrying of blocks of a uniform thicksnes
of about five feet. Iron oxide stain is prevalent in some parts of the quarry. A thin section of the rock shows
the following mineral percentages :
Orthoclase and microcline 34 %
Biotite 7 %
Others (chlorite, sericite, apatite) 1%
On the basis of this examination, the rock falls into the class quartz-monzonite.
Lassiter Quarry : The Lassiter Quarry, located about one mile southeast of Rolesville, is the largest and
among the most efficient crushed-stone operations in North Carolina. (Figure 1.) According to Mr. H. S.
Satterwhite of the Bryan Rock and Sand Company, the quarry was first opened in 1922 and engaged exclus-
ively in the production of street curbing until 1923, at which time crushing facilities were installed at the
quarry. From 1924 to 1929, the principal products from the quarry were curbing, paving blocks, and crushed
stone. During this period, curbing and paving blocks were shipped to points as distant as Philadelphia.
Operation of the quarry was intermittent during the years 1929 to 1941, but it has since been operated on a
full-time basis with the most modern equipment in all phases of the quarrying operation. The principal prod-
ucts include concrete aggregate, road metal, and railroad ballast. Markets are supplied in North Carolina,
Virginia, South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida. A large amount of stone from the quarry is marketed in
Coastal-Plain cities of the State. At the present time, the quarry covers approximately half a square mile
and averages more than 75 feet in depth. It is a pit-type opening, although the east end presents a reason-
ably accessible entrance to the quarry. Overburden in the quarry area is negligible.
The granite utilized by the quarrying operation at Rolesville varies from a light pinkish gray to a medium
gray, even-granular, medium-textured rock, which in some places shows a slight coarsely foliated character,
to a medium-grained, massive, white granite containing a small amount of biotite. Though variable in amount,
the biotite is always evenly distributed. A thin-section analysis of the granite by the U. S. Bureau of Public
Roads shows the following composition:
According to the analysis, the granite of the Lassiter Quarry is a normal or biotite granite.
WENDELL GRANITE AREA
The principal occurrence of granitic rock in the Wendell area is about one mile east of the corporate limits
of the town, in the eastern part of Wake County. A large quarry, Rockton Quarry, formerly operated by the
Bryan Rock and Sand Company, has been developed in this vicinity in a rather pronounced dome-like body
The Commercial Granites of North Carolina
20 The Commercial Granites of North Carolina
of granitic rock covering about 100 acres. The quarry is about 500 feet square and was worked to an average
depth of about 125 feet, beginning on a flat surface and expanding vertically and horizontally. Because of
increased production at the company's Lassiter Quarry, this operation was abandoned about 5 years ago,
and the quarry is now filled with water to a depth of about 50 feet. Prior to cessation of operation, the
quarry furnished large amounts of crushed stone for use as concrete aggregate, road metal, and railroad
ballast to Eastern North Carolina.
The granite is light gray to pinkish gray and ranges in texture from even-granular, medium-grained
rock to a distinctly porphyritic phase, in which half -inch to one-inch laths of plagioclase are the principal
mineral constituent. Large segregations of biotite and quartz are commonly found in the medium-textured
phase, which is richer in the two minerals than the highly feldspathic porphyritic parts of the deposit. The
rock is moderately sheared, with the most prominent plane of jointing having a strike of N. 60° E. Most
of the open fractures are coated with a thin veneer of biotite, and quartz and binary granite veins cutting
the granite are common. Sheeting within the deposit is very irregular and because of shear, hardly detect-
able. At some places, buff to reddish-brown residuum covering the granite attains a thickness of 30 feet. A
microscopic examination of several thin sections, cut from the medium-grained phase of the granite and re-
ported by the U. S. Bureau of Public Roads, shows the following minerals and their percentages in the rock :
Quartz 32 % to 42 %
Orthoclase 34% to 49%
Plagioclase 0% to 21%
Microcline 1% to 11%
Perthite , 2% to 5%
Biotite 0%to 8%
Muscovite 0% to 3%
The results of these analyses place the rock in the category of biotite granite, although one of the analyses
shows a rock approaching quartz-monzonite.
KNIGHTDALE GRANITE AREA
The Knightdale granite area is located in southern Wake County, about 6.5 miles west of Wendell. The
largest outcrops occur as low, flat-surface masses and large spheroidal boulders. The granite is very sim-
ilar to that occurring in the Rolesville area, though the mineral composition appears more uniform.
Abandoned Quarry: An abandoned quarry, covering approximately 1.5 acres, is located 1.5 miles east of
the corporate limits of Knightdale and 0.1 of a mile north of the Norfolk Southern Railway. It is accessible
by hard-surfaced road and a quarry road from Knightdale. According to local inhabitants, the quarry has
produced dimension stone but more recently was a source of rock for crushing. It is reported to have been
operated for about one month in 1950 in the production of crushed stone in small amounts. The quarry is
now filled almost to the surface with water, and the depth of the quarry could not be determined.
The granite is a uniformly light gray to pinkish-gray, even-granular rock of medium texture. Biotite is
evenly distributed through the rock, and occasional quarter-inch laths of plagioclase, which nearly equals in
amount the orthoclase constituent, can be seen in hand specimens of the granite. The rock body is cut by
widely spaced vertical joints and rarely by veins of pinkish binary granite. The stone is well suited for use as
small dimension stones and crushed material and is unweathered on the exposed surface.
OTHER GRANITE AND GRANITE-GNEISS AREAS IN WAKE COUNTY
Other areas of granite and granite-gneiss outcrops in Wake County can be found in the vicinity of the
following communities :
1. Zebulon: Granite of a type similar to that at the Rockton Quarry near Wendell occurs near Zebulon,
and large flat-surface outcrops can be seen adjacent to U. S. Highway 264, southeast of Zebulon, in the east-
ern part of Wake County.
2. Wake Forest: Granite of a type similar to the Rolesville stone outcrops rather extensively in the
vicinity of Wake Forest, in northern Wake County.
3. Falls : Granite-gneiss, or Wakestone, crops out near the village of Falls, in north-central Wake County.
The Commercial Granites of North Carolina 21
A large body of granitic rock underlies the central part of Vance County, being intrusive into the vol-
canic slates in the western part of the county and gneisses and schists in the eastern portion of the county.
(See Plate II.) The area of present commercial granite production in Vance County is located at Greystone;
however, a considerable amount of dimension granite was produced some years ago about three miles north-
east of Greystone, in the vicinity of Middleburg.
The present Greystone Quarry, located along the Seaboard Air Line Railroad in east-central Vance
County, is one of three openings made in the granite near the village of Greystone, the first of which was
begun about 1885. In 1904, the quarry now in operation was about 100 feet square and had been worked
to an average depth of less than 12 feet. This compares with an average depth of approximately 150 feet
and an areal extent of 1,000 by 700 feet at the present time. This quarry has been in almost continuous
operation since about 1900 and for many years furnished curbing, paving block, and crushed stone to cities
as distant as Norfolk, Virginia. Crushed stone from the quarry is still marketed in Norfolk. Present pro-
duction is limited to crushed aggregate, road metal, and railroad ballast. Ballast is shipped to points as
distant as Florida, and other crushed products are marketed in Coastal-Plain cities in North Carolina as far
east as Greenville.
The granite, covered by 1 to 6 feet of buff colored residuum, is moderately gneissic, showing a rough
parallel growth of the biotite constituent and is light pinkish gray in color. Segregations of biotite in the gran-
ite are common, and a thin veneer of the same mineral occurs on many of the open- joint surfaces. Many gran-
itic and fine-grained pegmatitic dikes and veins penetrate the rock and the principal joints, which strike N. 60°
E. and N. 5° E. The rock is consistently medium grained, though occasional large grains of orthoclase tend
to disturb the textural uniformity. A thin section prepared from a specimen of the rock shows the following
Orthoclase : 50%
Plagioclase (oligoclase) 2%
Others (apatite, zircon, magnetite, muscovite, chlorite) 3%
Accordingly, the rock falls into the class biotite granite. Of interest in the examination of this section was
the extensive kaolinization of feldspars, the extensive chloritization of the biotite, and the considerable
amount of muscovite and sericite, also derived from the alteration of the feldspar constituent. In addition,
many quartz-feldspar intergrowths were observed.
About three miles north of Greystone and one mile west of the village of Middleburg, in east-central
Vance County, two large quarries were opened about 1900 and were operated on a small scale for many
years, furnishing paving block and curbing to cities in Southeast Virginia.
The granite from these quarries is remarkably similar in mineral composition to the granite at Grey-
stone, though it is distinctly more gneissic and is darker in color as a result of an increase in the amount of
biotite present. As in the Greystone granite, occasional outsized grains of orthoclase and segregations of
biotite tend to disturb its medium texture. Only one plane of jointing, having a strike of N. 87° E., cuts
the massive, flat-surface deposit, but binary granite dikes and quartz veins are found in all parts of the
quarry area. The granite dikes range in thickness from a feather edge to one-half inch, but the quartz veins
are rather uniformly about one inch in width. Residual overburden in the quarry area is negligible.
The Middleburg granite is not well suited for any type dimension stone with the exception of rough
curbing, and it is doubtful that the deposit at the old quarries could be utilized economically as crushed
stone because of the massive character of the granite.
22 The Commercial Granites of North Carolina
Other Granite Areas in Vance County
Other areas in Vance County in which granite outcrops are extensive are located along U. S. Highway 1,
north of Henderson and in the vicinity of Williamsboro, located about 10 miles northwest of Henderson. Ac-
cording to a microscopic examination by Watson and Laney, the granitic rock which crops out near Hender-
son is a normal or biotite granite, showing a slight gneissic structure.
Large boulder outcrops and flat-surface masses of granitic rock are rather numerous over the central and
eastern portions of Franklin County and are especially notable in the vicinity of Louisburg, the county seat.
To the west of Louisburg, along the county line, gneisses and schists similar to the rocks in western Wake
County underlie a generally thick residual cover. A small part of northeast Franklin County is underlain by
rocks of the Volcanic-Slate Series. (See Plate II.) The commercial utilization of granitic rocks has never
been undertaken in Franklin County, though some areas appear to be worthy of commercial development.
THE LOUISBURG AREA
During the investigation, numerous outcrops of relatively fresh granite were observed in the vicinity of
Louisburg, especially along the Tar River and N. C. Highway 56 between Louisburg and Franklinton. A thin
section, cut from a specimen of the granite exposed along the Tar River in Louisburg, is described by Watson
and Laney, as follows :
"... a medium texture biotite granite, composed of . . . orthoclase, microcline, acid plagioclase,
quartz, biotite, muscovite, apatite, zircon, iron oxide, chlorite and kaolin. Orthoclase is the predom-
inant feldspar with but little microcline. . . ."
According to this analysis, the rock is interpreted as representing a medium-grained biotite granite. A
specimen of the granite collected by the author shows it to be a light gray massive granite of uniform med-
ium texture, containing no parallelism of mineral constituents. The deposit, located near the center of Louis-
burg, is cut into blocks of varying dimensions by joints, striking N. 75° W. and N. 20° W. Quartz veins occupy
some of the joints and binary granite dikes up to 6 inches in width cut the deposit in many directions. A
specimen of granite obtained from an outcrop along the State highway between Louisburg and Franklinton
is very similar to the Louisburg granite.
Dimension Stone Quarry : Approximately 12 miles west of Louisburg, near the county line, a small open-
ing was made many years ago in a distinctly gneissic rock similar to the granite-gneiss in Wake County. The
opening is about 75 feet in diameter and was worked to an average depth of about 12 feet. The small flat-
surface outcrop in which the opening was made is cut by joints, striking N. 61° W. and N. 19° E., and many
of the joints are filled with vein quartz. The stone is light gray to mottled tan in color and of a grain size
intermediate between fine and medium. Its gneissic character is immediately apparent upon examination of
hand specimens, and in appearance it is as desirable a stone for building purposes as the Wakestone of the
Raleigh area of Wake County. Apparently, this quarry was worked many years ago for blocks of small
dimensions for local building purposes. A thin section cut from a specimen of the granite-gneiss shows the
following mineral composition :
Biotite 4 %
Others (apatite, chlorite, epidote, titanite) 1%
The rock falls into the class herein defined as granite-gneiss. Of considerable interest in the examination of
the thin section were the numerous tangential contacts between quartz grains and the overall "quartzitic" ap-
pearance of the stone in the areas containing few or no dark silicates. The close proximity of the rock from
this quarry to the schist-gneiss and granite contact, coupled with the microscopic properties, suggest a non-
plutonic origin for the rock.
The Commercial Granites of North Carolina 23
Massive diabase dikes of gabbroic composition are found in many places in Franklin County penetrating
the granitic rock but seem especially prevalent along the highway between Louisburg and Franklinton. These
intrusives are typical of the diabase dikes which occur in many parts of North Carolina from the granite
areas of the Coastal Plain to the Blue Ridge. They are composed predominantly of plagioclase (labrado-
rite), augite, olivine, with magnetite as the principal accessory mineral. The average strike of the dikes
between Louisburg and Franklinton is roughly N. 40° W.
Granitic rocks are exposed in only a few places in Warren County, the principal areas being located
around Warrenton, in the east-central portion of the county, and in the vicinity of Warren Plains, about 3
miles to the north. Although approximately three-fourths of the county is underlain by granitic rock, resi-
dual overburden attains great thickness over most of the county and accounts for the scarcity of outcrops.
So far as could be determined, there has been no commercial granite production in Warren County. (See
The granite outcrops in the vicinity of Warrenton are uniformly medium grained, light gray in color,
and in most of the exposures the rock is very slightly gneissic. Joints cutting the granite strike N. 30° W.
and N. 50° to 60° E. A small quarry was opened in the granite in the west corporate limits of Warrenton
many years ago to furnish crushed material for improving the streets of the town but has been abandoned.
A thin section prepared from a specimen of this granite is described by Watson and Laney :
"... a thin section of the rock reveals a . . . biotite-hornblende gneiss. . . . Besides biotite and
hornblende, the principal minerals in the rock are orthoclase, with an equal or greater amount of
striated plagioclase, quartz, epidote, and chlorite. Microcline entirely fails. The hornblende nearly
equals biotite in amount. . . . Quartz is equal to or greater in amount than the feldspathic constitu-
According to this analysis, the rock should be placed in the class quartz-monzonite.
WARREN PLAINS AREA
Granite similar in composition to that found in the Warrenton area outcrops about 3 miles north of War-
ren Plains and, like the granite at Warrenton, has never been utilized commercially. In some phases of the
rock, almandite(?) garnet becomes a prominent accessory mineral.
Warren County State Quarry: In recent years the State Highway and Public Works Commission has
developed a quarry in a light gray, fine- to medium-grained granite in southwestern Warren County, 6.5 miles
southwest of Warrenton, in the vicinity of the village of Afton. This granite deposit outcrops as a prominent
dome-like body, standing about 75 feet above an adjacent creek. It is intricately jointed and intruded by vein
quartz. The joints strike N. 69° E., N. 44° W., and N. 17° W. Sheeting in the granite is poorly developed.
The presently abandoned quarry is typical of the small bench-type quarry developed in many places across
the State by the State Highway and Public Works Commission. It covers about one-half acre.
The granite is an even-granular massive rock, showing a uniform distribution of biotite through most
of the deposit ; however, large prominent segregations of the biotite up to 6 inches across are found in some
places within the quarry. Many of the biotite segregations are crumpled and mashed to such an extent as to
render them gneissic. A thin section of the stone from the quarry shows the following mineral composition :
Quartz " 32 %
Orthoclase . 47%
Others (muscovite-sericite, zircon, magnetite) 1%
The rock is a biotite granite. Interlocking quartz and feldspar grains and peripheral shattering of the quartz
constitute the most pronounced microscopic characteristics of the rock.
24 The Commercial Granites of North Carolina
Old Quarry : An abandoned quarry near the village of Oline, about 6.75 miles northeast of Warrenton,
was visited briefly during the Warren County investigation. The granite from this quarry is very similar
in appearance to the rock utilized at the State quarry near Afton, though it shows a very slight coarse folia-
tion. As in the Afton deposit, this rock is highly jointed and intruded by vein quartz.
The occurrence of granitic rocks in Granville County is limited to the east-central portion of the county.,
beginning at the Virginia state line on the north and terminating in the south-central section of the county
upon contact with sedimentary rocks of Triassic age. The remainder of the county is underlain by rocks of
the Volcanic Slate Series and Triassic sediments. (See Plate II.) Boulder or flat-surface bodies of light
gray, even-granular, massive granite were observed in a few localities in Granville County, being especially
prominent in the vicinity of Oxford, the county seat, and along U. S. Highway 158 east of Oxford. So far
as could be determined, none of the granite deposits in these areas has been utilized commercially and in only
one locality, near Wilton in the southeastern section of the county, is granite presently utilized by the State
Highway and Public Works Commission.
State Quarry : A small bench-type quarry, operated by the State Highway and Public Works Commission
for the production of crushed stone for local road improvement work, is located 1.75 miles east of Wilton,
in the extreme southeastern part of Granville County. The granite deposit in which the quarry is developed
crops out as boulders and flat-surface masses over an area of approximately one-fourth square mile. The
granite is a massive, deep pink, even-granular rock of medium texture. The prominent mineral constituents
are quartz, pink feldspar, and uniformly distributed biotite. The exposed granite is cut into irregular blocks
of varying dimensions by rather closely spaced joints, having strikes of N. 34° E. and N. 3° W., and further
by horizontal sheeting planes at intervals of 1 to 4 feet. At many places in the quarry, vein quartz fills open
joints ; while in other places the joints are either unfilled or their open surfaces are coated with an iron sul-
phide mineral. At the time of the field work, the quarry was roughly circular and covered an area having a
diameter of approximately 250 feet. A thin section prepared from a specimen of the granite from this
quarry showed the following mineral composition :
Quartz J 29 %
Plagioclase ( oligoclase ) 29 %
Biotite 3 %
Others (muscovite, chlorite, apatite, and magnetite) 2%
According to this analysis, the rock falls into the class herein defined as quartz-monzonite. The most promi-
nent microscopic characteristics of the rock are the closely interlocked feldspar and quartz grains, myrme-
kite, intergrowths of quartz and orthoclase, and the pronounced alteration of the feldspar constituents.
The greater part of Northampton County lies in the Coastal Plain Province, granitic rocks cropping out
only in the extreme northwestern part, in the vicinity of Camps Store and Henrico. (See Plate II.)
THE HENRICO AREA
A small, flat-surface mass of granite-gneiss crops out one mile west of the village of Henrico, in the
northwestern part of Northampton County, about 11.5 miles WNW. of Camps Store. This small exposure of
gneissic granite covers about 2 acres and is entirely free from vertical joints. The rock is a dark pinkish-
gray, medium-grained, distinctly gneissic granite, showing complex intrusion by quartz, binary granite,
and normal granite of a medium-grained, massive character. The granitic intrusives are lighter gray than
the older gneiss and combine with the gneiss to form variegated migmatitic patterns through the entire
deposit. The injection of the later materials has taken place along a consistent north strike. In many of
the granite penetration zones, fragments of the older rock occur as essentially unaltered inclusions, and the
segregation of biotite is common in the same areas. A distinct and regular sheeting of a convex-concave pat-
The Commercial Granites of North Carolina 25
tern divides the rock into sheets approximately 4 feet in thickness. A thin-section analysis of the gneissic
granite shows the following mineral composition :
Others (microcline, chlorite, magnetite, apatite,
zircon, and plagioclase) 2%
The rock has the mineral composition of biotite granite.
Orange County lies almost entirely within the main belt of the Volcanic-Slate Series ; however, granitic
rocks are exposed in the southwestern portion of the county and schists and gneisses, in the extreme north-
western sections of the county. (See Plate II.)
The granitic rocks of Orange County are interesting because of the great variation in character between
the granite of the southern part of the county and the granite exposed in the east-central portion of the
county, near Hillsboro. In general, the granite exposures along the county line to the south of Chapel Hill
are light grayish pink to deep pink and are more often even-granular, medium-textured granite of uniform
composition. Feldspar is the predominant mineral in this granite, with quartz and other minerals usually
constituting less than 25 percent of the total volume. In the vicinity of Chapel Hill, the granite assumes a
rather uniform light gray color, in general contains a wider variation of mineral constituents, and contains
in many places a considerable amount of epidote and inclusions of older rock. To the north of Chapel Hill,
in the vicinity of Hillsboro, the granite contains numerous irregular inclusions of older basic volcanic rocks,
which, in places, seem to have altered extensively the original granitic material by enrichment of the magma
during assimilation. The Bacon Quarry, presently operated by the State Highway and Public Works Com-
mission, is the only stone operation in Orange County utilizing granitic rocks.
THE BACON QUARRY
The Bacon Quarry of the State Highway and Public Works Commission is located in east-central Orange
County, 4.3 miles northeast of Hillsboro and is engaged in the production of crushed stone for local road and
highway improvement. The deposit in which the small bench quarry is developed forms a roughly circular
hill, standing about 100 feet above the surrounding terrain. The rock is medium to dark gray, containing
gray to pinkish-gray feldspars and quartz and numerous inclusions of the older volcanic rocks into which
it was intruded. The texture is not uniform, and the mineral composition apparently varies from place to
place within the quarry. The rock is distinctly a massive hybrid material, formed during the intrusion in
volcanic slates of a magma which possessed poor assimilatory capacity. Inclusions in the rock range from
less than one-half inch to more than 2 feet across and show various stages of reaction peripheral to their
borders. Considerable epidote is disseminated through the rock, and veins and smears, or coatings, of epidote
appear on the open-joint surfaces. Veins of calcite, up to 6 inches across, occur as joint filling in the highly
sheared deposit. A thin section cut from a hand specimen of the rock shows the following mineral composi-
Epidote 10 %
Others (sericite, magnetite) 2%
According to this analysis, the rock should be placed in the category quartz-diorite(?). Of interest in the
examination of the thin section were the innumerable fine inclusions of epidote, giving the rock an extremely
"dusty" appearance under the low-power lens. A considerable number of idiomorphic feldspars and the
scarcity of interlocking mineral grains are also prominent microscopic features of the rock.
26 The Commercial Granites of North Carolina
Halifax, Johnston, and Chatham Counties constitute a part of the Northeast Piedmont and are partially
underlain by granite rocks similar to those in adjacent counties. Because of a thick residual cover and con-
sequent scarcity of outcrops, little time was spent in these counties during the investigation.
A porphyritic granite, probably a granodiorite, was seen along N. C. Highway 48 near Brinkleyville in
the western part of Halifax County, during the investigation and was found to be highly weathered and
friable. The granite contains large laths of plagioclase up to 1.5 inches across and often biotite and quartz
grains of a uniform size of about one-half inch. Most of the feldspar grains show moderate to strong kaolin-
ization. The rock is exposed for about 1.5 miles along -the highway.
In Johnston County, granitic rock outcrops prominently in the vicinity of Clayton. Because of the time
limitation during the investigation, the rock was not examined closely.
A southern extension of the granite body in Orange County crops out in northern Chatham County,
about 2 miles south of the county line along U. S. Highway 15-501. The granite, similar to the deep pink
variety found in southern Orange County, is even-granular, medium textured, and of a uniform composition.
Feldspar is the predominant mineral component, with quartz and dark silicates usually occurring in small
quantities of not more than 20 to 25 percent. In the vicinity of Bynum, 3 miles northeast of Pittsboro, light
gray, medium-textured granite penetrates volcanic rocks of the Volcanic-Slate Series.
GRANITES OF THE CENTRAL PIEDMONT
The Central Piedmont is underlain largely by the most extensive bodies of igneous rocks in North Caro-
lina, the Main Igneous Belt, or Carolina Igneous Belt of Watson and Laney, and the main body of slaty vol-
canic rocks, forming a large part of the Volcanic-Slate Series in the State. The eastern boundary of the
Central Piedmont is formed by sedimentary rocks of Triassic age, and the eastern boundary of Person
County, while the western limit is formed by the extensive pre-Cambrian gneiss-schist complex and the
western line of Rockingham County. Virginia and South Carolina limit the region on the north and south,
respectively. (See Plate III.)
The Main Igneous Belt is formed by a continuous body of granitoid rocks lying along a northeast-south-
west axis from the South Carolina line to western Person County, attaining the greatest width, 35 miles,
in the central and southern parts of the belt and the least width, 10 miles, at its northern terminus in Person
County. It is within this belt that the widest variety of granitoid rocks in the State occurs. Of the various
types present, perhaps granite and quartz-monzonite are the most aboundant ; however, large areas within
the divisions contain granodiorite, diorite, gabbro, and augite-syenite, all of which have been utilized more
or less in the production of commercial stone. Also within this belt of rocks are large areas of older gneisses
and schists, which interrupt locally the continuity of the granitoid rock bodies. Throughout most of the
Central Piedmont, thick, buff to reddish-brown granite residuum covers fresh rocks ; however, outcrops are
more frequent and much larger than in the Northeast Piedmont, where boulder outcrops are common in
The geological associations between acid and basic rocks in the Central Piedmont become very complex
in some localities, especially in areas adjacent to the Volcanic-Slate Series, but the complexities are not lim-
ited to this zone. Even in the central areas of the Main Igneous Belt, granite-diorite complexities are fre-
quent and of such a nature as to pose very complicated associations. In many places, the relationship of
granites and basic rocks strongly suggests multiple intrusion with granite penetrating older diorite-gabbro,
while in other localities the relationship suggests diorite-gabbro invasion of granite. Dike materials of
varied composition are prevalent throughout the region and are mentioned briefly in the appropriate section.
The presence of gneissic structure in some of the granitic rocks of the Central Piedmont is sufficiently pro-
nounced to suggest some dynamic metamorphism prior to or after consolidation of the emplaced magma.
In others, the parallelism is almost certainly the result of incomplete assimilation, or a partial replacement
by granite of the older gneissic and schistose rocks.
That portion of the Central Piedmont underlain by granites and related rocks includes parts of 15 coun-
ties, which, in order of granite and granite-gneiss production and commercial granite potential, are Rowan,
The Commercial Granites of North Carolina
28 The Commercial Granites of North Carolina
Guilford, Forsyth, Caswell, Davidson, Iredell, Cabarrus, Rockingham, Gaston, Mecklenburg, Davie, Ala-
mance, Lincoln, Catawba, and Person. At present, commercial granite production is limited to Rowan,
Guilford, and Forsyth Counties, and granite-gneiss is utilized in the production of crushed stone in Caswell
Most of the largest and best known granite areas in the State are included in the Central Piedmont, the
most important of which is the Salisbury area of Rowan County, where the production of both dimension
and crushed stone constitutes important industries. Other important granite-producing areas include
Stokesdale, High Point, Jamestown, McLeansville, and Greensboro, in Guilford County, and Winston-Salem,
in Forsyth County, all of which are engaged exclusively in the production of crushed stone.
Rowan County is underlain by plutonic rocks of varied physical and chemical characteristics and rocks
of the Volcanic-Slate Series. The volcanic rocks, flows and pyroclastics, occupy the southeastern quarter
of the county, and granitic rocks are found in the remainder of the county.
Because of the unusual availability and superior quality of the granitic rocks, the quarries in the
county are among the principal and most important sources of commercial granite in North Carolina. Di-
mension granite is quarried in the vicinity of Granite Quarry, about 5 miles southeast of Salisbury, largely
along and adjacent to a prominent ridge of un weathered granite. The ridge begins about 4 miles east of
Salisbury and is more or less topographically prominent northeastward for 12 to 14 miles. The granite
composing the ridge ranges from various shades of pink to standard light gray, even-granular granite, and
all colors are utilized commercially at present, the pink varieties from the quarries being famous in all
parts of the United States. The principal crushed-stone area in Rowan County is near Woodleaf, 9 miles
northwest of Salisbury, where a large quarry is developed in rocks of the granite-diorite-gabbro complex.
Rowan County contains many operating and abandoned quarries and small openings, the more impor-
tant of which are mentioned or described in the following order: (1) The Harris Granite Quarries, (2) The
Quarries of the Salisbury Granite Industries, Inc., (3) The J. A. Logan Granite Company's Quarry, (4)
Other Dimension Stone Quarries, (5) The Woodleaf Quarry, and (6) Other Granite Areas.
THE HARRIS GRANITE QUARRIES
The Harris Granite Quarries Company is among the oldest producers of crushed and dimension granite
in Rowan County and is presently engaged in the quarrying and finishing of Balfour Pink Granite, Carolina
Pink Granite, and Salisbury Gray Granite. In addition to the large output of dimension stone, a crusher
is installed at the Balfour Quarry for utilizing the rubble from the dimension-stone operations. According
to Mr. A. L. Harris, mining engineer, the annual production of dimension stone from the company's two
active quarries averages approximately 20,000 cubic feet, most of which is the Balfour Pink and the Caro-
lina Pink varieties. Dimension-stone production at the quarries is divided into two classes: monumental,
which constitutes 80 percent of the total ; and building, which accounts for the remainder. Building-stone
production is restricted largely to blocks of small dimensions for local use and paving blocks for use as tube
liners in industrial grinding equipment. Recently large blocks of granite have been marketed for use as
base mounts for precision instruments, the Balfour Pink granite being especially well adapted for this pur-
pose because of an extremely low coefficient of expansion. The capacity of the stone crusher at the Balfour
Quarry is reported to be about 6,000 tons per month ; however, the lack of sufficient rubble sometimes forces
the cessation of crushing operations for short periods.
The two active quarries of the company producing rough stone employ modern equipment, including
steel derricks, air drills, and quarry bars (channel bars). Rough-cut granite from the quarries is finished
in a well-equipped plant in Salisbury and shipped by rail and truck to large markets in the northeastern and
west-central parts of the United States and smaller markets locally and in the Southeast.
The principal quarries of the Harris Granite Quarries Company are: (1) The Balfour Quarry, (2) The
Carolina Quarry, (3) the Dunns Mountain Quarry, (4) The American Quarry, (5) The Shuping Quarry,
and (6) The Old Rowan Granite Company's Quarry.
The Commercial Granites of North Carolina
The Balfour Quarry : This quarry is located one-half mile southeast of Granite Quarry, in south-central
Rowan County, 0.3 of a mile west of U. S. Highway 52. The deposit in which the Balfour Quarry is developed
constitutes a moderate topographic rise and is a part of the granite ridge of the southeastern part of Rowan
County. The present quarry, a pit-type opening, ranges from 100 to more than 150 feet in depth and is approx-
imately 300 by 800 feet in horizontal dimension. Over most of the quarry area, 1 to 12 feet of yellowish-brown
residual decay and partially decayed granite have been removed during the quarrying operations. The de-
posit is essentially massive, being cut by widely spaced joints which strike N. 10° E. and N. 70° W. Of con-
siderable interest during the inspection of the quarry was the relationship of the principal plane of jointing,
N. 70° W. and the color of the granite. At the north end of the quarry, the deposit consists of medium gray,
even-granular, medium-grained granite, which continues toward the south end of the quarry to a point at
which the principal joint surface cuts the deposit. At this point, in a space of only 2 to 3 feet, the color passes
transitionally to a bright pink granite. The pink color continues for about 30 to 40 feet and changes to a dis-
tinctly lighter pink granite immediately beyond a joint surface, parallel to the first. Toward the south end of
the quarry, the light pink granite grades slowly into a bluish-gray granite and further on, to a blue-gray-pink
hybrid rock. Natural sheeting planes, if present in the granite, are not distinguishable from the many arti-
ficially induced planes. The greatest production from the quarry consists of a bright pink, slightly gneissic
granite, in which dark silicate minerals are almost entirely absent. A thin section cut from the Balfour
Pink granite shows the following mineral composition :
Plagioclase 33 %
Others (muscovite-sericite, apatite, titanite,
magnetite, and chlorite) 2%
According to this analysis, the rock is a quartz-monzonite. The most prominent microscopic feature of the
rock is the pronounced interlocking character of feldspar and quartz grains.
The Balfour Quarry has been in almost continuous production for more than 40 years, and it is estimated
that 20,000,000 cubic feet or more of granite have been removed during its operation. Much of this pro-
duction has been shipped to all parts of the United States and other parts of the world, and during the past
40 years pink granite from the Balfour Quarry has become a standard on the granite market of the United
States. The principal products from the quarry are monumental stock, paving blocks, large building blocks,
small building blocks, and curbing. Figure 2 shows paving blocks of pink granite stacked and ready for
shipment from the Balfour Quarry. The stone is quarried by using plugs and feathers and channel bars to
separate the blocks from the quarry wall and is removed from the quarry by electrically operated hoists.
Subdivision of the large blocks is accomplished by plug and feather wedging. The granite is reported to work
well, and it takes a brilliant abrasive polish.
Figure 2. Paving Blocks, Balfour Quarry, Rowan County
30 The Commercial Granites of North Carolina
The Carolina Quarry: The Carolina Quarry is located 4 miles southeast of Salisbury, immediately north-
east of Dunns Mountain. The granite is a medium pink, even-granular, medium-grained stone, comparable
in physical characteristics and color to the Balfour Pink ; and, like the Balfour stone, it works well and takes
an excellent abrasive polish. The granite is essentially the same rock as that quarried at the nearby Salis-
bury Granite Industries, a thin-section analysis of which can be found on page 31. It is a shallow, pit-type
quany, roughly rectangular in plan and covering about 3 acres. Work at the quarry is intermittent, and
water had partially filled the opening at the time of the investigation. Prominent but widely spaced joints
cut the deposit at N. 45° E. and N. 25° W., but sheeting planes appear entirely absent below a 1- to 2-foot
surface sheet of partially decayed granite. Residual overburden attains thicknesses up to 5 feet in the
vicinity of the quarry. The granite from the Carolina Quarry is used principally for monuments.
The Dunns Mountain Quarries : Dunns Mountain, the most prominent topographic feature in the Rowan
County granite area, was the scene of considerable quarrying activity in past years; however, the extreme
toughness and the poor workability of the stone, due to the lack of well-developed rift and grain, have resulted
in the complete closing of the quarries. The "mountain" is located 4 miles southeast of Salisbury and 1.5
miles east of U. S. Highway 52, in the east-central part of Rowan County. Several quarries operated on the
slopes of Dunns Mountain produced both gray and pink varieties of granite for many years, production be-
ing restricted largely to blocks of varying dimensions and curbstone. Both the pink and gray granite of the
Dunns Mountain deposit are even-granular and alike in mineral composition, differing only in the color of
the orthoclase feldspar constituent. Joints, having strikes of about N. 70° E. and N. 55° E., traverse the
deposit at wide intervals, and in some places the joint surfaces are coated with a thin veneer of epidote show-
ing slickenside striations. Residual overburden is very thin or absent, and steep slopes developed in granite
can be seen at almost any place on the mountain. A thin-section description of the pink granite by Watson
and Laney shows the following mineral constituents:
". . . an aggregate of feldspar and quartz with no dark bisilicate. . . . Finely striated acid plagio-
clase may equal or exceed . . . the potash feldspar. Microcline is present only in subordinate
amounts. . . . scattered grains of magnetite . . . are noted through the section."
On the basis of this description, the granite falls into the class quartz-monzonite, though the apparently
excessive amount of plagioclase in some phases of the rock may place it in the class granodiorite.
The American Quarry: Beginning immediately southwest of Dunns Mountain and continuing to within
one-half mile of Granite Quarry, a series of small openings and prospects have been made in gray, medium-
textured granite on a tract of land formerly known as the McCanless property. This series of small open-
ings is terminated at the southwest end by the American Quarry, a large, water-filled, abandoned opening.
The quarry is approximately 200 by 500 feet in areal dimension and more than 100 feet deep. The granite
is a light gray, medium-textured rock and is reported to work well and take a brilliant abrasive polish. Joints,
having strikes of N. 35° W. and N. 15° E., cut the granite at moderately wide intervals, and most of the joint
planes are slickensided. Overburden in the quarry area ranges from 5 to 10 feet and is underlain by 1 to 10
feet of sap granite. During operation, both dimension and crushed stone were produced in large quantities,
dimension stone having been shipped to points as distant as Reading, Pennsylvania, and Washington, D. C,
as early as 1903.
The Shuping Quarry: The Shuping Quarry is located in the town of Faith, 5 miles south of Salisbury
and 2 miles west of U. S. Highway 52. Owned by the Harris Granite Quarries Company, the Shuping Quarry
is leased to J. T. Ritchie for the production of dimension granite.
The quarry is developed in a low dome-like mass of light gray to very slightly pinkish-gray, medium-
grained granite, which crops out over approximately 3 acres. The granite is essentially fresh from the sur-
face downward. Vertical joints, at widely spaced intervals, cut the deposit in the following directions: N.
10° E., N. 10° W., N. 45° E., and N. 50° W., and sheeting planes divide the granite into layers, ranging in
thickness from 6 inches at the surface to about 10 feet in the lower parts of the shallow, bench-type quarry.
The granite is an aggregate of closely interlocked grains of quartz and feldspar, about 10 percent of uniform-
ly distributed biotite, and a small amount of epidote. Well developed rift and grain in the deposit respond
excellently to quarrying and subdivision by plug and feather wedging. The principal products from the
quarry are building blocks of small dimensions for local use and curbing and sills for shipment out of the State.
The Commercial Granites of North Carolina 31
The Jones Quarry, located two-tenths of a mile southeast of the Shuping Quarry, is also operated by
Mr. Ritchie for the production of small building blocks, the granite being similar to that from the Shuping
Quarry but of a lighter color because of less biotite.
The Old Rowan Granite Company's Quarries: Within the corporate limits of Granite Quarry, consider-
able quarrying activity was carried on at several openings from about 1900 to as late as 1930. Two large
quarries are located about 100 yards northeast of the railroad depot, and smaller openings are found at close
intervals to the southwest and toward the Balfour Quarry, to the southeast. Granite from these quarries
is similar in composition and texture. A hand specimen of the light gray granite shows closely interlocked
grains of quartz and feldspar, no biotite, and a considerable amount of the accessory mineral, magnetite.
Even in a hand specimen, kaolinization of the feldspar constituent is apparent.
The deposit forms a large dome-like mass, covering about 4 acres, and the larger of the two bench-type
quarries developed in the deposit covers about an acre. The depth could not be determined because of water
in the quarry, but it is reported to be in excess of 30 feet. Joints, striking N. 40° E. and N. 40° W., cut the
deposit into blocks of varying dimensions. Residual decay and sap granite covering the granite range from
5 to 15 feet in thickness.
QUARRIES OF THE SALISBURY GRANITE INDUSTRIES, INC.
Since its entrance into the Salisbury granite area in 1932, the Salisbury Granite Industries, Inc., has
become one of the most efficient and modern granite quarrying operations in the Nation, The granite area
presently controlled by this company lies approximately 1 mile northeast of Dunns Mountain and 4 miles
southeast of Salisbury. The deposit is characterized by extensive flat-surface and boulder outcrops of med-
ium-grained, even-granular, pink granite of extreme hardness but excellent workability. A total of eight
openings has been made over the area, but present quarry operations are confined largely to a single opening
developed in massive, pink granite in the southeastern part of the property. Production from the quarry is
limited to dimension stone of varying sizes for finishing into monumental stock of the finest quality. The
principal opening, a pit-type quarry rectangular in shape, is about 150 feet in length and 120 feet in width
and has been worked to an average depth of 35 feet in about 4 years of operation. Production from this
quarry apparently has exceeded 500,000 cubic feet, the larger part of which has been available for finishing
and marketing. Shipments from the plant are made by motor freight and railroad to markets throughout the
United States. Recently, a shipment was made to Hawaii. The stone is marketed under the trade name
"Salisbury Pink Granite," and the annual production averages 50,000 to 75,000 cubic feet.
The deposit in which the principal quarry has been developed is cut by very widely spaced and largely
closed joints, having strikes of N. 50° E. and N. 25° W. These joints in no way interfere with the production
of dimension stone of any desired size. Plug and feather wedging and channel bar separation are employed
ing the quarrying of the granite as well as in the subdivision of the large blocks. Electrically operated steel
derricks and hoists are used to remove the blocks from the quarry. Because natural sheeting planes are
absent in the deposit, it is necessary to rely on artificially induced sheets for the horizontal parting of the
granite. Black powder is used for cleaving sheets of any desired thickness, and usually a single lift is made
over an area of 1,000 to 2,000 square feet and worked until exhausted. Because of efficiency of operation,
waste from the quarrying procedure is held to a minimum. The granite is cut and finished in a modern,
well-equipped plant into various types and sizes of monuments and to a lesser extent finished building blocks.
The plant is equipped with gang saws, contour machines, high-speed polishing mills, and diamond saws. Ac-
cording to Mr. C. R. Deadwyler, manager of the quarries and finishing plant, wire saws will soon be installed
to add facility to the plant's operation.
The granite is a bright pink rock, showing an even distribution of the quartz and feldspar constituents
and minor amounts of bright green epidote and bluish magnetite. A thin section cut from a hand specimen
of the granite shows these minerals in the following percentages :
Orthoclase 47 %
Others (biotite, epidote, magnetite, and muscovite)_ 1%
The Commercial Granites of North Carolina
The Commercial Granites of North Carolina 33
According to this analysis, the rock is placed into the class granite ; however, the normal amount of bisilicate
minerals in granite is not present in this stone. The most pronounced microscopic characteristic of the rock
is the closely interlocked grains of quartz and feldspar and the shattered appearance of the grains.
During the course of the investigation, quarrying operations were observed both in the crushed-stone
and dimension-stone industries, but none has been more efficiently developed than the principal quarry of
THE J. A. LOGAN GRANITE COMPANY'S QUARRY
The J. A. Logan Quarry is located in the southern corporate limits of the town of Faith, 5.5 miles south-
west of Salisbury. The area in which this small pit-type quarry has been developed is characterized by low,
flat-surface outcrops of granite and a few widely scattered granite boulders. The quarry is roughly circu-
lar, with a diameter of about 150 feet and an average depth of approximately 20 feet. The deposit is essen-
tially massive, containing neither well defined planes of jointing nor sheeting planes of any consequence,
rendering it necessary to use the plug and feather wedge method and the channel bar for the separation of
blocks from the quarry wall. Lift sheets are produced over areas up to 2,000 square feet, using the black
powder method; however, due to the horizontal attitude of the rift, a lifted sheet can be subdivided hori-
zontally to any desired thickness by the use of plugs and feathers. The operation is modern in every way,
the equipment consisting of electrically operated steel derricks and hoists, air drills, and channel bars. The
principal products from the quarry are monumental stone, building stone of large dimensions, and small build-
ing stones for local use. According to Mr. J. A. Hosselton, quarry superintendent, annual production ex-
ceeds 35,000 cubic feet, most of which is shipped by rail to cutting and finishing plants in Northeastern
United States and also to the cutting and finishing plant at Mt. Airy, Surry County.
The granite, a medium-grained, even-granular rock, ranges in color from a faint pinkish-white, market-
ed under the trade name Arabian Pink, to a light pink variety, marketed as Coral Pink. The pinkish color
of the Arabian Pink variety from the quarry is due to minor oxidation (?) of the iron oxide mineral mag-
netite, while the Coral Pink stone owes the pink coloration to an even distribution of light pink feldspars in
the rock. The mineral constituents are distributed uniformly through the granite and possess a strong in-
terlocking character. A thin section cut from a specimen of the Arabian Pink stone shows the following
mineral percentages :
Others (magnetite, epidote, titanite, biotite) 1%
According to this analysis, the Arabian Pink granite is a quartz-monzonite.
OTHER DIMENSION STONE QUARRIES
Many abandoned or sporadically operated granite quarries and small openings are found in many areas
in and around the towns of Faith, Granite Quarry, Rockwell, and Barbers Junction, in Rowan County. In
the area around Granite Quarry, more than 25 such openings were observed within a two-mile radius, and a
similar number of small openings probably exists in the area around Faith.
Two quarries not previously discussed merit at least a short description because of the products from
one and the rock type formerly utilized at the other :
The Barnhardt Quarry: This quarry is located in the town of Faith, a few hundred feet southwest of
the J. A. Logan Company's quarry, and is developed in a rock type similar to the Arabian Pink of the Logan
Quarry, though the minor iron oxide stains are absent, rendering the stone a pleasant light gray to white.
At places in the quarry, the granite grades to a light pink. It is a pit-type opening and is partially filled
with water. According to Mr. McCombs of Faith, the granite works very well into curbing and paving
blocks. The principal products from this intermittently operated quarry are curbing, tube mill liners, and
grinding pebbles, the mill liners and pebbles being for use in industrial grinding machines in which the fin-
ished product must be extremely low in iron content.
34 The Commercial Granites of North Carolina
Thefeear Poplar Gabbro Quarry: The Bear Poplar Gabbro Quarry (McGalliard Quarry) is the name giv-
en the abandoned quarry of the old Consolidated Granite Company near Bear Poplar, 12.5 miles west of Salis-
bury and 5.5 miles southwest of Barbers Junction. The quarry is developed in large boulders and flat-sur-
face outcrops of black, medium-grained, even-granular gabbro (norite) and is reported to have been worked
for dimension stone as early as 1899. In 1903, Watson and Laney reported the stone was marketed as black
granite in Ohio, New York, Indiana, and several southeastern states and was becoming a popular monu-
mental stone in some parts of North Carolina. The deposit appears to be a large differentiated body of
gabbro, though it is somewhat similar in composition and texture to the ophitic textured, or biabasic, dikes
found throughout the Piedmont Plateau in North Carolina. A thin-section description of this stone by Wat-
son and Laney follows :
". . . containing much biotite, . . . orthorhombic and monoclinic pyroxenes largely hypersthene,
plagioclase, a little orthoclase, some hornblende, a sprinking of quartz, and titaniferous magnetite."
THE WOODLEAF QUARRY
The Woodleaf Quarry is located in the village of Woodleaf , 10 miles northwest of Salisbury, in an area
characteristic of the granite-diorite-gabbro complex. The large pit-type quarry is developed in plutonic rocks
of two genetic types, gabbro and granite, both of which show apparent intrusion into the other from place to
place in the quarry. Contacts in the granite-gabbro areas exposed in the quarry face are rather sharp,
generally grading from one rock type to the other in a space of 1 to 2 feet. The medium gray granitic rock
is an even-granular, medium-grained stone, containing abundant quartz, feldspar, and biotite showing strong
parallelism. Epidote, magnetite, and pyrite are the principal accessory minerals. In the granite areas of
the quarry, numerous well defined angular inclusions of a dark cryptocrystalline igneous rock are comomn
and in some places constitute a textural characteristic of the intrusive granite. On the basis of megascopic
examination and comparison with volcanic rock types found farther east in the Central Piedmont, it is be-
lieved that the inclusions represent remnants of extensive andesitic flow rocks of the Volcanic-Slate Series
into which the acid plutonic rocks have been intruded. A petrographic analysis of a granitic rock from the
general area of the quarry is reported by Watson and Laney, as follows :
". . . biotite granite in which the principal minerals, feldspar and quartz, interlock in a very irreg-
ular and intricate fashion. . . . Plagioclase as single individuals entirely fails. . . . The feldspar is
considerably altered principally to muscovite. . . . some epidote is noted."
According to this description, the rock falls into the class biotite granite.
The gabbroic rock is a dark gray, medium-grained rock showing in some places a porphyritic tendency.
Dark silicate minerals and plagioclase are the most abundant mineral constituents. A thin section cut from
the rock shows the following mineral percentages:
Plagioclase , 33%
Biotite - 12%
Pyroxene (mostly hypersthene) 44 %
Others (titanite, sericite) 1%
According to this analysis, the rock is placed in the class gabbro (norite). Of considerable interest in the
examination of the thin section were the closely interlocked grains, the development of micropoikilitic struc-
ture, and the distinctly gneissic structure of the rock.
Structurally, the rock deposit utilized in this production of crushed stone at Woodleaf is moderately
sheared by vertical joints, striking N. 20° E. and N. 60° E., and further broken by well developed sheeting
planes at intervals of 2 to 15 feet. It was also observed that one of the principal directions of vertical joint-
ing is almost always present along the acid rock-basic rock contact in the quarry; however, the sheeting
planes are continuous across the contact zones. Throughout the quarry, quartz veins containing a consider-
able amount of pyrite intersect the older rocks ; and veins of calcite, distinctly younger than the quartz, are
common in highly jointed areas as joint filling. Epidote, probably associated with the formation of the cal-
cite, occurs as a coating on open-joint surfaces and as fine stringers in the rock.
The Commercial Granites of North Carolina 35
The quarry is equipped with the most modern tools of quarrying, crushing, and hauling, including well
drills, quarrymaster drills, heavy-duty Diesel trucks, belt conveyors, and primary and secondary crushers.
The plan of quarrying over the years has resulted in the development of a pit-type quarry, covering about
10 acres, in which a 100-foot level is the principal production level and a 150-foot level is the drainage and
waste level. According to Mr. H. C. Burgess of the Superior Stone Company, the Woodleaf Quarry has been
operated almost continuously since 1921. The principal product of the operation is crushed stone for use
as concrete aggregate.
OTHER GRANITE AREAS
Granite areas of some significance in the production of stone in Rowan County in past years are located,
as follows :
Phillips Mountain: This is a low, large-diameter topographic rise, located about one mile southwest of
Faith. As early as 1903, small quarries were operated in the area for the production of curbing from a
light gray, medium-textured granite. No production is made in the area at present.
Powlers Mountain : Powlers Mountain is the name given to a low dome-like mass, located 3 miles south-
west of Faith and 9 miles southwest of Salisbury. Many years ago, some quarrying was carried on in the
area, apparently for stone for local use. The granite is a light gray, medium-grained rock in which biotite
or other dark silicates are almost entirely absent.
Area of Porphyritic Granite: An area of porphyritic granite is exposed in places, beginning about 2
miles northwest of Salisbury and extending for about 5 to 6 miles northwestward. The granite is a medium
to dark gray and contains idiomorphic grains of orthoclase feldspar up to 2 inches across and large amounts
of medium-grained biotite. According to Watson and Laney, a small production of crushed stone was made
from the granite at a point 3 miles northwest of Salisbury on the Old Wilkesboro Highway.
Basic rock types have wide distribution over Rowan County, occurring as diabase and schistose dikes
and medium-grained basic differentiate masses. The principal areas of occurrence of the medium-grained
basic rocks are located in the vicinity of Barbers Junction, 10 miles northwest of Salisbury and extending
southwest toward Bear Poplar, 17 miles west of Salisbury, and around Woodleaf in northwestern Rowan
County. Basic dikes are found throughout the granitic rock areas of the county, being especially prevalent
in areas of the granite-diorite-gabbro complex.
Except for limited areas of volcanic rocks in the south and schists and gneisses along the northern
boundary, Guilford County is underlain by granitic rocks of varied texture and mineral composition, some
of which are utilized in the production of crushed stone. (See Plate III.) The present commercial granite-
producing areas of Guilford County are located near McLeansville, Stokesdale, Jamestown, High Point, and
Greensboro. Noncommercial stone is produced by the State Highway and Public Works Commission at the
Pearman Quarry in northwest Guilford County.
THE MCLEANSVILLE QUARRY
The McLeansville Quarry is located in east-central Guilford County, one mile west of the community of
McLeansville and 5 miles east of the corporate limits of Greensboro. The quarry was acquired by the Supe-
rior Stone Company in 1948, from which time large amounts of crushed stone for use as road metal and
concrete aggregate have been produced and marketed in central North Carolina. According to Mr. P. M.
Williams of the company, the maximum daily production during this period has ranged from 3,000 to 3,500
tons. The quarry utilizes the most modern equipment, including percussion drilling machines for the drill-
ing of shot holes, jackhammers, heavy-duty Diesel trucks, primary and secondary crushers, and belt con-
veyers. ■; •
The pit-type quarry is developed in a flat-surface mass of rocks, covered in some places by 20 to 30 feet
of buff to reddish-brown residuum, derived from the underlying light and dark colored, medium-grained
36 The Commercial Granites of North Carolina
granitic rocks, basic volcanic rocks, and schistose and diabasic lamprophyre dikes. The basic volcanic rocks,
probably of andesitic composition, occur as large,, well defined inclusions in the darker colored granitic rocks
and are believed to represent remnants of a volcanic flow rock belonging to the Volcanic-Slate Series, into
which granite magma was emplaced. The darker phase of the granitic rock in the quarry appears to have
been intruded by a light gray granitic rock, containing no inclusions but intricately intermingled with the
older material, the intricate association probably resulting from an intrusion of the acid magma into the
incompletely consolidated darker magma. Over most of the deposit, stringers of epidote and quartz and
cubes of pyrite, up to one inch across, are contained in both the light and dark rocks and in the schistose in-
trusives. The diabasic lamprophyre dikes do not contain epidote, quartz, or pyrite. The rocks are rather
moderately sheared throughout their exposure in the large shallow quarry. A thin section cut from a speci-
men of the lighter colored granitic rock shows the following mineral composition :
Quartz [ 20%
Biotite 3 %
Others (chlorite, apatite, magnetite, epidote, titanite) 3%
According to this analysis, the rock falls into the class granodiorite.
THE GUIL QUARRY
The Guil Quarry is located 2.5 miles east of Stokesdale, 11.5 miles northwest of the corporate limits of
Greensboro, and adjacent to N. C. Highway 65. According to Mr. Eller, quarry superintendent, the Guil
Quarry was first opened by Guilford County for the production of crushed material for the improvement of
county roads and was operated an unknown number of years for that purpose. Since 1948, the quarry has
been operated by the Piedmont Quarries Company of Winston-Salem. Maximum daily production during
this time is reported as 1,000 tons, the greater part of which is marketed as concrete aggregate and road
metal in Guilford and surrounding counties. The quarry is developed in a low dome-shaped mass of granitic
rock, in places covered by buff to reddish-brown residuum, which ranges in thickness from 2 to 25 feet.
The quarry is approximately 1,200 feet in length, 300 feet wide, and 150 feet deep, making it an excellent
example of a pit-type opening. The deposit is penetrated by binary granite dikes up to 5 inches in width,
which show minor fault displacement at the north end of the quarry. Along the plane of faulting, the sur-
faces of the granite are coated with a mixture of calcite and epidote, and the feldspars of the granite are
deep red in color for 1 to 2 inches away from the plane of faulting. Minor amounts of epidote are dissem-
inated through the rock, and 1- to 2-inch isolated or segregated areas of quartz are common in certain
zones of the rock. The rock is light to medium-gray granite of medium texture, containing a considerable
amount of biotite, which sometimes segregates, and a large amount of quartz. The feldspar constituent is
composed of microcline, orthoclase, and a little plagioclase. In mineral composition and general appear-
ance the granite is very similar to that quarried at the State Highway and Public Works Commission's Pear-
man Quarry, located 4.5 miles to the southwest. A thin-section description of granite from this quarry can
be found on page 37.
THE JAMESTOWN QUARRY
The Jamestown Quarry is located 2 miles south of Jamestown, 7.5 miles south of the corporate limits of
Greensboro, and 0.5 of a mile north of Kivette Drive, east of High Point. According to Mr. Whitlow, ope-
rator, the quarry was first opened by the United States Civilian Conservation Corps and was operated until
1935, producing crushed stone for use as concrete aggregate and road metal. Since September of 1952, the
quarry has been operated by Whitlow Brothers of High Point, and at present the operation produces a max-
imum of 700 tons of crushed stone daily, most of which is marketed locally.
The rock from the small bench quarry is a medium gray, even-granular granite of medium texture, con-
taining uniformly distributed biotite and much quartz. It displays a moderate gneissic structure, showing a
parallelism of the biotite constituent. The deposit, covered by residuum up to 20 feet thick, is intruded by
small diabase dikes and is moderately sheared by joints, having strikes of N. 23° W. and N. The quarry
operation is modern in every respect, being equipped with pneumatic tools, heavy-duty trucks, and a small,
compact crushing plant.
The Commercial Granites of North Carolina 37
the high point quarry
The High Point Quarry is located 1 mile south of Kivette Drive, 2.5 miles east of High Point, and along
Two-Mile Creek. Operated by Whitlow Brothers of High Point since 1947, the quarry produces large amounts
of crushed aggregate for the market area around the city of High Point. The bench-type quarry is devel-
oped in a shattered body of granite, similar to that utilized at the Jamestown Quarry, but the rock contains
more biotite and displays a strongly gneissic structure. Small amounts of pyrite and epidote are dissemi-
nated through the rock. The buff colored residual overburden, ranging in thickness from 2 to 50 feet, con-
tains many boulders of exfoliated granite.
THE BUCHANAN QUARRY
The Buchanan Quarry, owned and operated by Mr. G. C. Buchanan, is located 2.7 miles south of the
corporate limits of Greensboro, 0.2 of a mile east of U. S. Highway 421, and adjacent to Little Alamance
Creek. The quarry, a circular, pit-type opening having a diameter of approximately 300 feet, was opened
in 1940 and has been operated continuously since that time in the production of crushed aggregate for the
local market. Equipment in use at the quarry consists of a modern, compact crushing plant, wagon and well
drills, heavy-duty Diesel trucks, power shovels, and pneumatic tools, all of the latest design. The quarry is
developed in a gentle topographic swell, formed by rocks of the granite-diorite complex type which show
moderate jointing and rather deep weathering. The depth of combined residuum and sap rock ranges from
10 to 25 feet in the quarry area. The principal rocks consist of fine- to coarse-grained diorite(?) and irreg-
ular shaped areas of younger medium-grained granitic rocks. Large blocks of an ivory colored, highly
siliceous, fine-grained rock appear as inclusions in the diorite, and many dark lamprophyre and granite dikes,
ranging from one inch to several feet across, penetrate the above rock units. Over most of the quarry area
the medium- and coarse-grained rocks show moderate to strong gneissic structure and contain large amounts
of biotite and hornblende.
THE PEARMAN QUARRY
The Pearman Quarry is located in northwest Guilford County, 2 miles southwest of Stokesdale and 0.7
of a mile south of U. S. Highway 158. The quarry was reportedly opened by the State about 1937 for the
production of crushed stone for use as road metal in Guilford and adjacent counties. At present most of
the small production is used for improvement of secondary roads in Guilford County. The opening is a
perfect example of a well developed bench quarry, offering an almost level access road and natural drain-
age. Structurally, the deposit is cut into small, irregular-shaped blocks by a complex system of closely
spaced, vertical joints and well developed sheeting planes at 2- to 5-foot intervals. The residual overburden
ranges from 2 to 10 feet in thickness. The deposit is intersected by two prominent binary granite dikes,
about one foot in width, which strike northeast.
The rock is medium-grained, even-granular granite, showing a strong parallelism of the abundant biotite
and hornblende constituents and containing a large amount of quartz and a considerable amount of finely
divided epidote. The biotite and hornblende are most prominent in the rock when occurring together as
almost solid bands of the two minerals. These bands appear to be relict bedding planes in the highly felds-
pathic rock. A thin section cut from a specimen of the rock shows it to be a biotite-hornblende gneissic gran-
ite, having the following mineral composition :
Quartz 27 %
Orthoclase 58 %
Biotite and hornblende : 12%
Others (magnetite, myrmekite, sericite, calcite, chlorite,
muscovite, epidote) 3%
OTHER GRANITE AREAS
Igneous rocks or meta-sedimentary granite-gneisses have been utilized in many areas of Guilford County
in the past, the more important localities being :
Browns Summit and Vicinity: Browns Summit is located 8.5 miles northeast of Greensboro and 1.5 miles
west of U. S. Highway 29. The granite in this vicinity is a light gray, medium-grained gneissic granite, con-
38 The Commercial Granites of North Carolina
taining abundant muscovite, biotite, quartz, and feldspar. This rock has been utilized in the production oi
crushed aggregate in past years. A thin section of granite from a deposit 1.5 miles southeast of the town is
described by Watson and Laney, as follows :
"... a biotite granite . . . composed of an aggregate of quartz, microcline and orthoclase with very
scant plagioclase. . . ."
According to this description, the granite is classed as normal, or biotite, gneissic granite.
Summerfield and Vicinity : Summerfield is located on U. S. Highway 220, 12 miles northwest of Greens-
boro. Granite from many small openings in the vicinity, formerly utilized largely on a noncommercial basis,
is a light to medium gray, even-granular, medium-grained stone which in some restricted localities has a
porphyritic tendency. Most of the granite outcrops in this area show a marked gneissic structure. A petro-
graphic description by Watson and Laney follows :
". . . biotite granite of closely interknit feldspars and quartz ... biotite largely altered to chlorite
. . . Single plagioclase individuals are absent."
The rock falls into the class biotite gneissic granite.
Greensboro Area: Several abandoned quarries are located within Greensboro and in the area immed-
iately adjacent. Several of these openings were visited, but none were examined closely. In general, the
quarries are developed in light- to medium-gray granite of an even-granular, medium-grained texture and of
a variety similar to the medium-gray granite of the McLeansville Quarry. Work at the quarries visited was
suspended many years ago.
Basic rocks, including diabase and schistose dikes and medium-grained differentiate masses, have wide-
spread occurrence in Guilford County. A diabase dike, 100 feet in width and having a northeast strike,
can be seen one mile west of Greensboro, along U. S. Highway 220 on Battleground Avenue. Other dikes of
smaller dimension are especially prevalent in the northeast section of the county. Schistose dikes and diabase
gabbro dikes can be seen along U. S. Highway 70 east and 420 southeast of Greensboro and in localities west
of the city.
Granitic rocks containing a relatively large proportion of quartz underlie the southeastern third of For-
syth County but are presently utilized in only one locality, at the Piedmont Quarry in Winston-Salem. The
remaining part of the county is underlain by gneisses and schists and a narrow belt of Triassic sediments
along the north-central border of the county. (See Plate III.)
THE PIEDMONT QUARRY
The Piedmont Quarry is located a few hundred feet outside the eastern city limits of Winston-Salem
and one-half mile north of N. C. Highway 150. The area in which the large bench-type quarry is developed
is characterized by flat-surface masses of light gray, medium-grained, slightly gneissic granite, containing
large included masses of biotite gneiss and small dikes and veins of hydrothermal quartz and binary granite.
Throughout the general area, residual decay is rather thin, constituting an overburden of less than 12 feet
in the immediate vicinity of the quarry.
The granite portions of the quarry and the large quartz-biotite gneiss inclusions are distinct units in
the quarry walls, showing restricted gradational contacts but otherwise appearing to be separate intrusions.
Only the presence in the granite of smaller well defined inclusions of a similar gneiss gives conclusive evi-
dence of the included relationship of the large gneiss bodies. The slightly gneissic structure of the granite,
showing a parallelism of the biotite constituent, seemingly represents relict bedding planes of those portions
of the gneiss which were not completely assimilated by the granite. The presence of excessive amounts of
silica in the parent granite magma is evidenced by large quartz segregations in both the granite and the
gneiss. Structurally, the rock mass is moderately sheared, however only one prominent joint could be de-
termined, it having a strike of N. 75° W. The quarry covers an area having a length of 600 feet and a width
The Commercial Granites of North Carolina 39
of 300 feet, and the quarry floor ranges from 75 to 100 feet below the general ground surface. According
to Mr. L. M. Seawell, president of Piedmont Quarries, this quarry was first opened in 1929 and has been in
continuous operation since that time. The maximum production, which is reported as 750 tons daily, is
restricted to crushed stone of various linear sizes for use as concrete aggregate. The market area for this
product is Winston-Salem and the immediate environs.
A thin section, cut from a specimen of medium-grained granite from the quarry and analyzed petro-
graphically by the U. S. Bureau of Public Roads, shows the following mineral composition :
Plagioclase 10 %
Microcline 6 %
Biotite 5 %
Muscovite 1 %
According to this analysis, the rock is a biotite granite. In some places in the quarry, the rocks contain
grains and crystals of almandite(?) garnet as a prominent accessory mineral.
ABANDONED QUARRY (PIEDMONT)
This quarry is located two miles southeast of the corporate limits of Winston-Salem and adjacent to
N. C. Highway 109, near the confluence of Fiddler and South Fork Creeks. The bench-type quarry, covering
about one-quarter of an acre and worked to an average depth of about 20 feet, is developed in a low dome-
like body of massive, light gray granite which varies in texture from medium to porphyritic, the outsized
fraction in the porphyritic phase usually consisting of grains of orthoclase up to three-quarters of an inch
across. Biotite and muscovite are distributed evenly through all texture phases of the rock, and occasional
segregations of quartz are also present in the exposed rock at many places. The deposit is penetrated by one
coarse pegmatite body, containing books of biotite up to three inches across, and throughout the deposit
small, ill-defined inclusions of biotite gneiss showing partial alteration to granite are rather numerous. The
deposit is cut by rather closely spaced joints having strikes of N. 45° W. and N. 50° E. According to Mr.
L. M. Seawell of the Piedmont Quarries, the granite of this deposit was first utilized in the production of
curbstone and small building blocks for local markets, but later the quarry was the scene of considerable
crushed-stone production. A thin-section analysis of the medium-grained phase of the rock is :
Orthoclase • 53 %
Biotite 9 %
Others (epidote, zircon, garnet) 1%
On the basis of this analysis, the rock falls into the class biotite granite.
Two abandoned quarries are located on the property of J. W. Snyder, 3.5 miles southwest of Winston-
Salem and adjacent to N. C. Highway 150. The older of the quarries covers about one-quarter of an acre
and is worked to a depth of about 30 feet. The production from the quarry was made as crushed stone for
local road improvement, beginning about 1910. The second quarry, opened about 1920 and worked for a
short time by Mr. Snyder, covers about three-quarters of an acre and has been worked to an average depth
of 25 feet. When operated, production at the quarry was limited to curbing and small building blocks for
local use. Mr. Snyder reports that the method of quarrying dimension stone at the newer quarry consisted
of producing a lift sheet over the entire quarry area, using black powder charges and working the lift sheet
with plugs and feathers. The granite has fair to poor working qualities.
The granite from both quarries is medium gray in color and ranges from coarse-grained to porphyritic
in texture, with the feldspar constituent composing the outsized grains in the rock. Like the granite at the
Piedmont Quarry, the rock is highly siliceous and apparently contains about the same mineral composition,
however no inclusions were seen in the exposed granite in either of the quarries. A few small binary gran-
ite dikes intersect the deposit, and several very small stringers of epidote are present at scattered places in
the newer quarry.
40 The Commercial Granites of North Carolina
the w. e. graham quarry
The quarry is located three miles north of the corporate limits of Winston-Salem and immediately to the
east of U. S. Highway 52. It is developed in a very dark gray to black, thin-bedded biotite gneiss, some 3 to
4 miles away from the gradational granite and gneiss contact. The rock is fine-grained and resembles the
biotite-gneiss inclusions contained in the granite at the Piedmont Quarry. The pit-type quarry covers about
1.5 acres and has been worked to a depth of 100 feet. The unweathered rock, which is presently being utiliz-
ed in the production of crushed stone, is overlain by 30 to 40 feet of dark red residuum.
Diabasic and schistose basic dikes occur in a few scattered localities in the granitic rocks of Forsyth
County, being noted in areas lying south and southwest of Winston-Salem. Such intrusions can be seen
along U. S. Highway 158, a few miles southwest of the city. Most of the dikes are the small schistose type.
The Main Igneous Belt of the Central Piedmont extends across southeastern Caswell County, outcrop-
ping through the gneiss-schist complex and in large containing relict structures of the intruded rocks. With-
in the granite areas, residual overburden attains relatively great thicknesses; consequently, outcrops are
limited in both number and size. The production of stone in the county is confined to two quarries, a small
State-managed operation, in the contact zone between the granite and metamorphic rocks, and a large com-
mercial quarry, situated well into the granite-gneiss area in the northwestern part of the county. (See Plate
THE PELHAM QUARRY
This quarry, operated by Lambert Brothers, Incorporated, is located at Pelham, 12 miles northwest of
Yanceyville, in the extreme northwestern corner of Caswell County. The quarry, formerly known
as the Collins Quarry, was reopened in 1946 and has been operated continuously, with its production being
confined to various sizes of crushed stone for use as road metal, concrete aggregate, and railroad ballast.
The quarry covers approximately 1.75 acres and has been worked to depths ranging from 50 to 150 feet. The
most modern equipment is employed, including heavy-duty Diesel trucks, drills, belt conveyers, and primary
and secondary crushers.
The deposit in which this pit-type quarry is developed is a flat-surface mass of granite gneiss which
has been intricately broken into irregular-shaped blocks, usually of small dimensions. Planes of jointing are,
therefore, numerous but could hardly be divided into sets or systems. Sandy, buff-colored residuum cover-
ing the fresh rock ranges from 5 to more than 20 feet. The rock is a pinkish-gray, rather fine-grained gran-
ite-gneiss, displaying strong parallelism of the principal mineral constituents, quartz, feldspar, and biotite.
A thin section, cut from a representative hand specimen, shows the following mineral composition :
Orthoclase and microcline 60 %
Others (chlorite, apatite, magnetite) 1%
According to this analysis, the rock falls into the class biotite granite-gneiss. In thin section, the rock shows
a strong gneissic structure with fine mosaics of quartz filling interstitial areas between larger orthoclase and
quartz grains. Many of the orthoclase and quartz grains also show complex intergrowth, and the feldspars
are slightly sericiticized.
THE STATE QUARRY
The State Quarry in Caswell County is located 6 miles northeast of Yanceyville and 2.5 miles southeast
of N. C. Highway 62. The rocks in which the quarry is developed consist of biotite gneiss, biotite schist, mus-
covite schist, granite-gneiss, and granite pegmatites. The light gray granite-gneiss apparently was derived
from the incomplete assimilation of the schistose and gneissic rocks, thus accounting for its gneissic struc-
ture. During the intrusive phases of the granite, pegmatitic fluids introduced along the schistosity and
cleavage of the older rocks crystallized to form bands of white granitic material. Later, pegmatites have
The Commercial Granites of North Carolina 41
cross-cut this material. The quarry, a bench-type development, is about 75 feet deep and covers an area of
150 by 200 feet. One prominent joint plane, striking N. 65° E., is common to both the older metamorphic
rocks and the granite. Other planes of jointing in the deposit are obscure. The granite, which occurs not-
ably near the floor of the quarry, is a medium-grained gray rock, showing a moderate gneissic structure and
containing, in terms of relative abundance, feldspar, quartz, and biotite. Residual overburden, ranging from
1 to 25 feet, overlies highly weathered schists and gneisses, but it is almost entirely absent in the granitic
areas of the quarry, the granite showing little signs of disintegration even at the surface.
DAVIDSON, IREDELL AND DAVIE COUNTIES
A portion of the main body of the granitic rocks of the Central Piedmont underlies approximately one-
half the total area of Davidson, Iredell, and Davie Counties. Volcanic rocks occupy the southern half of
Davidson County, and gneisses and schists largely occupy the northern parts of Iredell and Davie Counties.
(See Plate III.) Residual overburden attains relatively great thickness in the entire three-county area, and
the scattered small outcrops of granite, excepting those adjacent to major streams, show effects of moderate
weathering. As a result of the deep weathering of the rocks, which poses a stripping problem, no commer-
cial granite production is made in the three counties at present ; however, some commercial dimension stone
was produced near Mooresville, Iredell County, some years ago, and the State Highway and Public Works
Commission is producing crushed stone from a small quarry in Davidson County.
The State Quarry in Davidson County is located 9.5 miles south of Lexington and immediately adjacent
to the Yadkin River, 1.25 miles west of N. C. Highway 8. The quarry is a pit-type opening, roughly circular
in plan, with a diameter of 150 feet and a total depth near 50 feet. The thickness of overburden in the
quarry area ranges from less than one foot, near the river, to more than 25 feet just a few hundred feet
distant. The deposit is badly fractured by joints having strike directions of north and east. Crushed stone
of various sizes is produced at the quarry for use on local secondary roads.
The rock in the quarry area is a light pinkish-gray, massive, medium-grained granite, showing a uniform
distribution of the biotite constituent and light pink and gray feldspars in equal amounts. A thin section,
cut from a representative sample of the rock, has the following mineral composition :
Quartz 1 32%
Orthoclase and microcline 37 %
Biotite 5 %
Others (calcite, titanite, sericite-muscovite, chlorite) 2%
According to this analysis, the rock is near the composition of quartz-monzonite. A deep pink granite, very
similar in physical appearance to this one, may be seen at the Davidson-Rowan county line, near the Yadkin
River Bridge on U. S. Highway 29-70-52, southwest of Lexington.
About one-fourth of a mile southwest of the State Quarry area, a small dimension-stone quarry was
operated prior to 1927 for the production of paving blocks and building stone of small dimensions. The
quarry is developed in an unjointed phase of the granite utilized in the State Quarry.
More than a dozen small qupvries were operated in the Mooresville area prior to and for a short time
after 1900, the principal openings being the McNeely Quarry, one mile northwest of Mooresville, and the
Breed Quarry, located 1.5 miles southwest of Mooresville. The general type of rock in the quarry areas is
described by Watson and Laney in the following description of a sample of rock from the Breed Quarry :
". . . biotite-granite. . . . Orthoclase and microcline are in nearly equal proportions, with only 1 or
2 grains of plagioclase noted in the section. Biotite ... is present in large quantity, largely alter-
ed to chlorite and a colorless mica."
The rock is fine- to medium-grained, blue-gray granite of uniform texture and color. During the operation
of the McNeely and Breed Quarries, most of the production was confined to monumental stock.
42 The Commercial Granites of North Carolina
The granitic rocks of Davie County are similar to those of the Woodleaf area of Rowan County and the
light pinkish-gray granite found in Davidson County. Outcrops are limited almost entirely to small areas
adjacent to streams. No commercial or noncommercial granite production is made in the county at present.
Dikes of basic composition are rather prevalent over the entire area bounded by Davidson, Iredell, and
Davie Counties. Schistose and diabase dikes of basic rock may be seen best along U. S. Highway 29-70, be-
ginning about 3 miles north of Lexington and continuing into the adjacent county. These dikes range in
thickness from one inch to more than 100 feet, the larger ones usually showing a pronounced schistose struc-
ture. Both the larger schistose dikes and the diabase dikes show minor displacement perpendicular to strike.
MECKLENBURG AND CABARRUS COUNTIES
As shown on Plate III, almost the entire area comprising Mecklenburg and Cabarrus Counties is under-
lain by granite and related rocks of the Main Igneous Belt, however the commercial development of these
rocks never has been attempted on a large scale. At present, the only granite production in the two counties
is made in the form of crushed stone at a small State quarry in Mecklenburg County. The lack of commer-
cial utilization of the rocks in this area can probably be attributed to the generally thick residual overburden
and the lack of uniformity of physical characteristics of the various rock types.
THE CHARLOTTE AREA
Within the present corporate limits and the vicinity immediately adjacent to Charlotte, granite was
quarried from several small openings around 1900, but today these openings have been filled or are grown
over by vegetation. One such quarry, "The City Quarry," described by Watson and Laney as being the larg-
est opening in the county, produced crushed granite for use on the streets of Charlotte. From the descrip-
tions of other openings in the Charlotte area, the granite from this quarry seems typical of the rocks in the
general environs. A microscopic analysis of this stone is given by Watson and Laney, as follows :
"... a biotite granite of a fine textured complexly interlocking aggregate of feldspar and quartz.
Potash feldspars, orthoclase and microcline, and microperthitic intergrowths, with very little pla-
gioclase compose the feldspathic constituent. The biotite is irregularly distributed through the sec-
tion. ... A few scattered grains of magnetite occur. . . ."
The principal areas in Mecklenburg County in which the granites seem most likely to have potential
commercial value are the Charlotte area, the area in and around Davidson in the northern part of the county,
and a small area 4 miles south of Newell, a community about 5 miles northeast of Charlotte.
A State-operated quarry, located 9 miles north of Charlotte and 1.5 miles southwest of Huntersville,
produces crushed stone for secondary road improvement in Mecklenburg County. At present, it is the only
granite operation in the county. The pit-type quarry is developed in rocks of the granite-diorite complex,
in which both the granite and diorite units contain well defined schist inclusions and show penetration by
basic dikes and stringers of younger epidote and binary granite. Joints, having strikes of N. 40° W. and
N. 10° W., break the rocks into blocks of rather small dimensions. Residual overburden in the quarry area
ranges from 5 to 15 feet in thickness. The granite, slightly pinkish-gray in color, is an even-granular, med-
ium-grained stone, containing abundant quartz, orthoclase and plagioclase feldspars in about equal propor-
tions, and considerable biotite which tends to segregate. The granite appears to intrude the darker colored
Except for a few small quarries operated many years ago in the vicinity of Concord, the granites of
Cabarrus County have not been worked commercially. Of the many types of granitoid rocks found in Cabar-
The Commercial Granites of North Carolina 43
rus' County, including normal granite of a fine to porphyritic texture, quartz-monzonite, diorite, and gabbro,
perhaps the most unusual is a coarse-grained augite-syenite which outcrops in the western part of the
county. The syenite is exposed as immense boulders, forming an elliptical pattern, beginning at the village
of Harrisburg in southwestern Cabarrus County, swinging northwestward for about 4 miles, turning east for
2 miles, and trending southeast to a point a mile east of Harrisburg. The width of the exposed syenite
varies from less than one-fourth of a mile to slightly more than a mile. The "ring" of syenite encloses an
area of gabbroic rocks approximately 4 miles in diameter. The syenite is composed largely of outsized grains
of potash feldspar, about 15 percent of the ferromagnesian mineral augite, and a minor amount of dark-
colored accessory minerals. The overall color of the rock is light bluish-gray. A thin section analysis by
Watson and Laney reveals the following mineral composition and physical characteristics of the rock :
"... a coarse-textured, augite-hornblende-biotite syenite composed very largely of feldspar with
slight quartz, and the accessories mentioned. The feldspars are orthoclase, microcline, microperthit-
ic intergrowths and subordinate plagioclase (oligoclase). . . . Green augite (diopside) is the prin-
cipal ferromagnesian silicate. Hornblende of green color exceeds biotite in amount."
This rock was being utilized in the production of ballast about 1903, however no attempt at quarrying it for
use as monumental or buiuding stone has been made.
Other outcrops of the granite and related rocks of Cabarrus County are found at widely scattered places,
however none are of sufficient importance to be discussed here.
Basic rocks of both even-granular medium texture and fine-grained dike material have widespread occur-
rence in Macklenburg and Cabarrus Counties. In Mecklenburg County, basic rocks are most prevalent in
areas east of Charlotte and in the vicinity of Davidson. Basic rocks in Cabarrus County are represented by
diabase and schistose dikes in widespread areas east and west of Concord and as medium-grained dioritic
rocks in the southwestern part of the county.
GASTON, LINCOLN, AND CATAWBA COUNTIES
Rocks of the Main Igneous Belt underlie the central and eastern parts of Gaston County and the eastern
portions of Lincoln and Catawba Counties, (Plate III), however no commercial granite has been produced in
the area except for minor amounts from a few small openings in the vicinity of Gastonia. These small quar-
ries, operated many years ago, produced small quantities of dimension stone in the form of sills, machinery
bases, rough-tooled monuments, and some crushed stone, all of which were marketed in the Gastonia area.
Most of the granite was quarried from large boulder and ledge-like outcrops, which are quite common in the
central part of the county especially in and around Gastonia and which also represent the largest exposures
of workable granite in the three-county area. A thin-section analysis of a typical granite from Gaston
County is described by Watson and Laney, as follows:
"The rock is a biotite granite in which the potash feldspars, orthoclase and microcline, are present
in nearly equal amounts. ... In several of the sections plagioclase failed entirely, while in others
only a few scattered finely striated grains were noted. . . . Biotite is of the usual kind and is large-
ly altered to chlorite. . . . The usual microscopic inclusions of apatite and zircon occur."
Most of the granitic rocks of the three counties, especially those noted near their contact with the gneisses
and schists to the west, show some parallel growth of the mafic constituent and some evidence of recrysal-
lization of quartz.
Other counties in the Central Piedmont in which granite and related rocks occur include Alamance and
Person, both of which are of little importance relative to the production of commercial or noncommercial
granite. Rockingham County, in the northern part of the Central Piedmont, lies entirely out of the Main
Igneous Belt but has been an important producer of crushed stone in the past, the production coming from
a quarry developed in a siliceous gneissic rock.
44 The Commercial Granites of North Carolina
Most of the granitic rocks of Alamance County are complexly associated with rocks of the Volcanic-Slate
Series, into which they were emplaced ; and, in turn, this complex has been intruded by large dikes of basic
rock and innumerable small aplite dikes. The decay of the granite and associated rocks has progressed to
such an extent as to render outcrops of fresh rock rare, except along major drainage. A thin section, cut
from one such outcrop of a medium-gray, large-grained granite exposed along Reedy Fork Creek in the
village of Ossipee in northwestern Alamance County, shows the following mineral composition :
Quartz 20 %
Biotite 8 %
Others (mostly epidote with minor amounts of apatite,
magnetite, and sericite) 4%
This analysis indicates that the rock is near the composition of normal granite, however it is apparent that
it has suffered considerable alteration as manifested by the large amounts of epidote included in the mineral
composition. Of considerable interest in the examination of the section was the abundance of zoned plagio-
clase feldspar. Prior to 1906, the granite from this ledge-like outcrop along the creek was worked to sup-
ply rough building stones in the immediate vicinity of Ossipee and Altamahaw.
The production of granite in Person County has been limited to one large State-operated quarry, locat-
ed one-half of a mile east of Roxboro. At present, the quarry is abandoned. This quarry, a bench-type
opening, is developed in a light pinkish-gray, mostly large-grained granitic rock deposit, which forms a
rather prominent topographic rise trending north for a distance of approximately a thousand feet. The
rock shows signs of considerable shear, being broken into small irregular blocks by planes of jointing, strik-
ing N. 42° W., N. 10° E., N. 77° W., and N. 33° W. Sheeting planes at intervals of about one foot are well
developed over the entire quarry, which covers an area of about one-half of an acre and has been worked to
a depth of 40 feet. Residual overburden in the quarry area ranges from 1 to 15 feet in thickness. The
rock body contains many small quartz veins and numerous inclusions of dark volcanic rock. Orthoclase
feldspar is the principal constituent of the rock, followed in abundance by the included volcanic rocks,
quartz, and biotite.
Some years ago, large amounts of crushed stone were produced at a quarry developed in siliceous gneiss
near the village of Stacey, in east-central Rockingham County. This quarry, now abandoned, offers an ex-
cellent opportunity for further development, especially at the north end where water has not flooded the
opening. The rock is a hard, well bedded, highly siliceous gneiss containing abundant quartz, much feld-
spar, small amounts of biotite, and scattered dark accessory minerals. The deposit is strongly sheared.
GRANITES OF THE WESTERN PIEDMONT
The Western Piedmont division of the Piedmont Plateau is mostly underlain by pre-Cambrian gneisses
and schists, penetrated in some places by granitic rocks which tend to form narrow northeast trending belts.
Sedimentary rocks of Triassic age occupy relative lowlands in parts of Stokes, Davie, and Yadkin Counties,
in the northeastern part of the region. The area comprising the Western Piedmont is bounded on the east
by the Main Igneous Belt of the Central Piedmont and the eastern line of Stokes County; on the west, by
the Blue Ridge escarpment, and by Virginia and South Carolina, respectively, on the north and south. (See
Outcrops of granite in the Western Piedmont generally are limited to scattered boulders and flat-surface
outcrops; however, several large "stone mountains" stand as barren granite monadnocks, especially in the
northern half of the division. Residual decay in the granite areas is similar in composition and color to the
The Commercial Granites of North Carolina 45
material of the other granite regions of the State and is equally as thick. All, or a portion, of 17 counties
comprise the Western Piedmont area, including the present or former granite and granite-gneiss producing
counties of Surry, Wilkes, and Yadkin. At present, commercial granite production is limited to the famous
Mt. Airy quarries, the largest single dimension-stone operation in the State and among the largest and most
modern in the Nation. The granite potential of this region can be considered unlimited. However, the
massive character of the granite will constitute much difficulty should quarrying operations for crushed
stone be undertaken in some areas.
The principal occurrences of granite in Surry County form two narrow belts, trending northeast, across
a part of the eastern half of the county. The remainder of the county is underlain by various types of
gneisses and schists, which contain numerous small pegmatitic intrusives and a few small diabase dikes.
In the igneous belts, the largest of the rather scarce outcrops of granite occur as boulders and low flat-sur-
face masses, showing most often an advanced stage of decay which renders the stone useless as a source
either of crushed or dimension granite. The notable exception to the deep weathering exhibited by the gran-
ites is the immense, gently sloping outcrop of fresh granite exposed for about live thousand feet along the
crest of a rather conspicuous hill, one mile northwest of Mt. Airy. Quarrying on an extensive scale has
been carried on in this area continuously since 1904 by the North Carolina Granite Corporation and for 15
years prior to that time by Thomas Woodroffe and Sons and The Mt. Airy Granite Company.
THE NORTH CAROLINA GRANITE CORPORATION (MT. AIRY QUARRIES)
The quarries of the North Carolina Granite Corporation are located over an area covering more than
a hundred acres atop and on the gentle slope (12°) of a large dome-like outcrop of unjointed, slightly
gneissic granite, having areal dimensions approximating one mile by one-half of a mile. The quarries con-
sist of several working areas devoted exclusively to the quarrying of dimension stone and one large area in
which stone is quarried for crushing in a plant equipped to produce poultry grit from the stone.
The dimension-stone areas at Mt. Airy, unlike other dimension granite quarries in North Carolina,
have very little depth from the top surface of the granite to the working surface. This type quarry devel-
opment has resulted from the working of layers, or sheets of granite separated from the main mass by the
induction of sheeting planes at 6, 8, or any desired number of feet below the surface of the rock body and work-
ing these layers of granite until exhausted. Quarry development such as this is greatly facilitated by the gentle
slope of the rock from the uppermost outcrop area to the base of the exposure. In the case of the Mt. Airy
quarries, lift sheets, or layers, of granite are produced by cleaving the stone at a depth below the surface
comparable to a desired thickness of the rough block and splitting along vertical planes, using feathers and
wedges, to the desired horizontal dimensions. Rough blocks are hoisted onto quarry cars for removal to the
cutting and finishing sheds. After a complete lift sheet has been worked off, another may be produced in
the same area and worked similarly. Each quarry may produce blocks of varying widths and uniform
thickness, so that, an order for stone of a desired width are available for transport to the cutting sheds
for custom splitting into blocks of less thickness than those quarried. Thin slabs of granite also may be
produced at the quarry from a lift sheet of less thickness than the usual 6 or 8 feet. This method of quar-
rying sheets is essentially one of peeling off layers of granite as needed. The creation of artificial sheeting
planes, or bottom joints, in the Mt. Airy quarries will be discussed in the section of this report concerned
The blocks of granite from the several quarries are cut, surfaced, and finished in plants located at the
base of the granite hill. These plants, among the largest and most modern in fhe Nation, are capable of
turning out granite in any form, polished or rough-cut as the market demands. Some of the various equip-
ment available for finishing the granite are gang and diamond saws of the latest design, surfacing machines,
contour machines, automatic polishers, and precision instruments employed in the shaping of statues and
memorials of various designs. (See Figure 4.) The principal dimension-stone products from the Mt. Airy
quarries include mausoleums, bridge construction stones, statues, architectural stone, and curbing. Of these
products, the company leads the Nation in output of mausoleums, ranks second in the production of bridge
construction stones, and is a leading producer of the other products, especially architectural stone and cus-
The Commercial Granites of North Carolina
tom-made curbing. Production figures furnished by Mr. J. P. Frank, president of the company, show that
3,600 carloads of granite were shipped from the quarries in 1952. This figure includes 1,200 carloads of
poultry grit of the various sizes produced at the company's crushing plant. In comparison with the 1952
production, 135 carloads of granite were shipped from the quarries in their first year of operation during the
year 1889 to 1890.
Figure 4. Cutting Granite With Diamond Saws, Mt. Airy Quarries, Surry County
The crushed-stone quarry is much the same as other bench-type quarries in North Carolina. Granite is
dislodged from the walls of the quarry by dynamite charges, set into drill holes of large diameter. Shots
are detonated in milli-second, delayed-action sequence to produce the best possible fragmentation. Large
blocks of stone remaining after a shot are reduced to the desired size by the use of a one-ton, drop-ball
setup. This method of secondary fragmentation has proved a most effective and time-saving method at Mt.
Airy and could well be put into use in other crushed-stone quarries across the State. The broken stone is
moved by truck to a well equipped crushing plant, a few hundred feet from the quarry, and fed into crush-
ers. From the crushers, the stone moves through a series of screens of various sizes, designed to retain the
crushed granite in the five-size classes in which the rock is sold as poultry grit. The crushed granite, sacked
and sold under the trade name of "Grani-Grit," has found a large market in many parts of the United States.
Crushed stone from this plant is also marketed as concrete aggregate.
Mt. Airy granite is a very light gray to almost white, medium-grained stone, composed of much feldspar,
quartz, biotite, and exceedingly small amounts of apatite, zircon, and epidote. Except for the biotite, which
tends to segregate, the mineral constituents of the granite are distributed very uniformly, thus presenting a
stone of unusual beauty and adaptability. This stone is widely known as a white granite and has found many
uses for which hard, durable stones of light color are desired. A thin section, cut from a representative
sample of Mt. Airy granite, shows the following mineral composition:
Quartz _ 26 %
Orthoclase 32 %
Plagioclase ; 33 %
Biotite _ ,8%
Others (apatite, zircon, muscovite, chlorite, and epidote) .. 1
In thin section, this stone, a quartz-monzonite, shows a slightly gneissic structure, minor kaolinization of the
feldspar constituent, and some grains of microperthite. A chemical analysis of the stone may be seen on
page 3, in column 4 of Table I.
Granite occurs in other counties of the Western Piedmont in much the same manner as in Surry County ;
however, it is more or less gneissic, depending upon the degree of pressure metamorphism to which the rock
bodies have been subjected or the degree to which the structures in the intruded gneissic rocks have been
The Commercial Granites of North Carolina 47
retained by the granite. Notable areas of granitic rocks in the Western Piedmont include: (1) parts of the
northern third of Stokes County, (2) a narrow area across central Yadkin County, (3) an elliptical-shaped
area in Cleveland County which extends into northwestern Gaston County, and (4) an elongated body of
granite underlying parts of southeastern Polk County and southwestern Rutherford County. (See Plate
IV.) Smaller areas of strongly gneissic granites underlie parts of Wilkes, Catawba, Caldwell, and Alexander
Counties. In most of the above areas the granitic rocks are broken into small irregular blocks by profuse
jointing and are usually overlain by great thickness of residual soil.
Residual masses of granite or granite-gneiss, often called "stone mountains," are rather prominent in
the Western Piedmont. Two of the largest are described by Watson and Laney, as follows :
Alexander County : "Rocky Face Mountain, which is located about 6 miles northeast of Taylorsville,
... is an elongated dome-shaped mass of granite-gneiss rising to an elevation of not less than 500
feet above the surrounding plain and measuring about 4 miles around the base ... a residual of
biotite granite-gneiss of light gray color and medium texture made up of alternating dark and light
colored layers. . . . The banding is of irregular thickness though generally averaging thin. . . .
The strike of the joint planes observed was N. 30° E. and N. 80° E."
According to the thin-section analysis of this stone, it is a biotite granite-gneiss.
Wilkes County : "Stone Mountain, the most prominent one of the granite residuals, is an oval shaped
mass of granite, 500 to 600 feet high and measuring 3 to 4 miles in circumference, at the base. . . .
The rock is a light gray, nearly white, medium-grained, biotite granite of slightly coarser texture
than the Mt. Airy granite in Surry County, which it closely resembles in color and other properties
... it shows a few segregated areas of black biotite, which become somewhat frequent in certain
portions of the rock. . . . Like the Mt. Airy granite, it is nearly free from joint-planes, not more
than half a dozen joints being observed in the entire residual. These had a strike of N. 45° E. and
N. 45° W."
Other residual granite masses somewhat smaller than those described above are located along the boun-
dary line between Wilkes and Alleghany Counties. These masses retain the oval shape of the "stone moun-
tains" and appear to have mineral compositions similar to the larger residuals. The "stone mountains,"
although representing large volumes of granitic rock, are unsuited for quarry development of any type. The
rather steep slopes of the "mountains" and the general lack of uniformity of color and texture render the
rocks useless as a source of high-quality dimension stone, while the massiveness of the rock bodies dismisses
them as good sources of stone for crushing.
Some commercial quarrying for crushed stone has been conducted in the past in the vicinity of North
Wilkesboro, Wilkes County; Hickory, Catawba County; and Yadkinville, Yadkin County, in areas underlain
by granite-gneiss, however no regularly operated quarries are known in these areas at the present time.
From time to time, the North Carolina State Highway and Public Works Commission utilizes granite-gneiss
in the production of crushed stone in some parts of the Western Piedmont, but these operations are usually
small and of a temporary design.
GRANITES OF THE BLUE RIDGE
The Blue Ridge, smallest and westernmost physiographic division of the State, contains several granite
and granite-gneiss areas, however no commercial granites are produced in the region at present. The prin-
cipal granite and granite-gneiss bodies, representing a rather complete penetration of older gneisses and
schists, underlie parts of Transylvania, Jackson, Macon, and Clay Counties. Like the granite areas in the other
regions of the State, these bodies tend to form more or less narrow belts which lie along northeast-southwest
trending axes. Other granitoid rocks are found in several other counties in complex association with older
metamorphic rocks, but these occurrences are of little significance in a report of this type. An interesting
large-grained to porphyritic granitic rock, or "alaskite," underlies a rather extensive area of Mitchell and
Yancey Counties and is utilized extensively in the ground feldspar and mica industries in that section. This
rock has been classified mineralogically as a "leucogranodioritic fine-grained pegmatite" by Parker, (p. 9,
Gneisses and schists of the mica and amphibole types are the most abundant rocks in the Blue Ridge, at
times being important in the production of crushed stone. However, natural gravel from flood plains and
The Commercial Granites of North Carolina
The Commercial Granites of North Carolina 49
intermittent stream channels and crushed limestone from several quarries are utilized largely as aggregate i
and road metal because of the comparative ease in obtaining the materials. Other rock types,' quarried on
a minor scale in the region, include quartzite, slate, and shale.
Since rocks of the massive granitic type are relatively rare in the Blue Ridge, the unlimited amounts of
metamorphic rocks offer the largest and most available sources of stone for use either as dimension or
crushed stone. In many places these rocks are sound and of a color requisite for use as dimension stone,
especially for rough construction and bridge building, and the availability of stone for crushing is equally
as favorable. Quarries utilizing gneisses or schists have been operated in Buncombe and Henderson Coun-
ties, but none are known to be operating at the present time.
Due to the lack of commercial granite production in the Blue Ridge, a minimum of work was done in the
region, and most of the following data were compiled from the report by Watson and Laney and folios pub-
lished by the United States Geological Survey. Only the more important occurrences are described, and they,
Swain County: A medium- to coarse-textured, light gray biotite granite-gneiss is exposed 1.5 to 2 miles
west of Bryson City along the deeper railroad and highways cuts. This gneissic rock, distinctly intrusive
into mica schist, shows a lineation of the mineral constituents in a direction opposed to that of the schist.
According to a thin-section analysis, the rock has a mineral composition comparable to normal, or biotite,
granite-gneiss. The deposit may prove of some value as a source of stone for crushing.
Henderson County: An abandoned quarry, covering about a quarter acre, located 1.7 miles north of
Hendersonville and 0.5 of a mile east of U. S. Highway 25, has been developed in an unusual augen-gneiss of
a mineral composition approximating granite. This distinctive rock type underlies a rather extensive area
in central and southern Henderson County and parts of eastern Transylvania County. It is a medium gray,
medium-grained granite-gneiss, containing large, elongated (elipsoidal) phenocrysts of potash feldspar lying
parallel to the well developed schistosity. The quarry was formerly operated for the production of railroad
ballast, but blocks of stone 4 by 8 by 10 feet are reported easily quarried and to have good splitting qualities.
A stone such as this would be admirably suited to interior or exterior dimension work wherever unique
stone is required.
Transylvania County: Granitic rocks showing strongly gneissic structure are exposed in several scat-
tered localities along the western boundary of Transylvania County but are not known to be worked in any
locality at present. Considering the irregular character and complex jointing of these rocks, it is doubtful
that they can be utilized except as a source of stone for crushing.
Clay and Macon Counties : Small areas of Clay and Macon Counties are underlain by granite-gneisses,
forming a narrow belt trending northeast across a part of these counties. The principal rock type is a typical
fine-grained, light gray biotite-granite gneiss, varying from slightly gneissic to extremely schistose. Jointing
is fairly well developed and often widely spaced. This rock may prove useful as a source of crushed stone in
some areas should market demands merit its exploitation.
Other Areas: Other less notable areas of granite and granite-gneiss occurring in the Blue Ridge are
found in Madison County near Hot Springs, the southern part of Jackson County, and parts of Watauga and
Ashe Counties ; however these rocks are most often complexly intercalated with older gneissic and schistose
rocks and will, therefore, prove of little or no commercial value.
The Commercial Granites of North Carolina
PROSPECTING, EXPLORATION, AND QUARRYING
In prospecting for granitic rocks of dimension-stone quality, it is advisable to consider the conditions of
occurrence, as follows: (1) size and shape of the deposit, (2) topographic expression, (3) spacing and fre-
quency of joints, including sheeting planes, (4) overburden and depth of weathering, and (5) uniformity of
texture and color.
PROSPECTING AND EXPLORATION
Size of Deposits: Magmas, from which granites and related rocks are derived, are intruded from un-
known depths into the crustal portion of the earth in large masses, so that outcrops and shallow-lying bodies
of granite represent the parts of deep-seated intrusions implaced into portions of the crust nearest the sur-
face of the earth. Therefore, any outcrop, regardless of areal extent, can be considered generally as bottom-
less, and stone can be removed from a deposit so long as it is economically feasible to quarry.
Topography: The topographic expression, or attitude, of a rock deposit often influences greatly its value
as a potential source of commercial stone. Broad, flat occurrences of granite necessitate vertical descent into
the deposit and a horizontal expansion of the initial opening. Openings of this type are referred to as pit
quarries, and production from this type of quarry in most instances is expensive or even prohibitive, due to
a delayed and smetimes low return from original investment.
Many granite deposits occur as dome-shaped masses, rising above the general level of the surrounding
terrain and permitting the development of wide, shallow quarries with easy access and natural drainage.
In rock masses displaying the dome-like attitude, the production of stone is facilitated without working
downward from the surface. Generally, openings are made in any flanking face of the "dome" and worked
more or less horizontally and to a much lesser extent vertically. Such developments are called shelf or bench
quarries and are seldom deep unless restricted by. property lines or by improvement of the rock at depth.
Figure 5 shows a cross section of a pit-type and a bench-type quarry.
Figure 5 : Idealized Cross Section of Pit and Bench-type Quarries
Joints: The position and direction of quarry walls is, in most instances, governed by the joint systems.
A prominent joint plane usually constitutes a heading, or quarry wall, along which the initial opening is
deepened and expanded horizontally. The joint systems at right angles to each other constitute the ideal
condition necessary for the development of a rectangular-shaped quarry, and dimension stone taken from
The Commercial Granites of North Carolina 51
such a quarry is itself roughly rectangular. Blocks of geometric shape are tooled more easily ; thus, the de-
velopment of a quarry facilitating the production of rectangular blocks aids in the lowering of operating
costs. The spacing of both vertical and bottom joints determines the thickness of dimension stone and
should be considered critically in prospecting for dimension-stone quarry sites. A close spacing either of the
vertical or bottom joints dismisses from consideration a deposit for quarrying dimension stone of large size.
Likewise, the absence of extremely wide spacing of joints may render the deposit unusable unless the stone
is of exceptional quality. Sheeting planes 10 to 30 feet apart and vertical joints 10 or more feet apart are
considered ideal for dimension-stone quarrying.
Overburden : In most granite-quarrying areas in North Carolina it is necessary to remove residual over-
burden preparatory to producing dimension stone. The decayed rock is removed by mechanical methods, in-
cluding dragline scrapers or excavators, power shovels, and tractor excavators. Hydraulic methods can be
used if sufficient water is available and the site is provided with favorable waste-disposing areas, affording
natural drainage. Completely decayed residual overburden. ranges from less than one foot to 20 or more feet
in thickness and is generally underlain by partially decayed rock unsuitable for marketing. This material
must be removed by hand methods or carefully controlled blasting.
Color and Texture: Color and texture in granite deposits should be consistent both laterally and ver-
tically in order to assure uniformity in the marketed product.
Present-day methods employed in the separation of large blocks of granite from the quarry wall and
further subdivision of the large masses are varied and are discussed here in a general way. Specific altera-
tions in the general procedures as used in North Carolina quarries are mentioned in the descriptions of indi-
vidual quarrying areas.
In the separation of blocks of granite from a deposit or into stones of smaller dimensions, one of two meth-
ods — blasting or wedging — is generally used. In the separation of a block from the quarry wall by blasting,
small diameter shot holes are drilled to a depth slightly above the sheeting plane and along a straight line for
the linear distance desired. The spacing of the holes is determined by prior experience, but they are nor-
mally drilled a foot or two apart. The holes are charged slightly with black powder, tamped lightly, and
detonated simultaneously. The simultaneous exploding of the powder charges results in an even distribution
of the shot through the stone. Care must be taken during the separation to use the exact amount of powder
necessary for the fracture, since use of an excess of the explosive may cause a shattering of the block or a weak-
ening of it by the creation of microscopic or incipient fractures. The shot holes for this type breakage are
drilled with pneumatic drills, and a reaming tool is sometimes used to cut grooves in the shot holes in line
with the direction of desired splitting to facilitate the fracturing.
In most quarries the use of powder for the separation of block granite has been replaced by mechanical
wedging methods. The most common of these methods or techniques is known as plug and feather wedging.
The tool used to accomplish the separation consists of two half -rounded steel bars, called feathers, on each
side of a hard steel chisel, known as the plug, extending above the feathers. A break in granite is produced,
using this method, by drilling a series of plug holes 4 to 6 inches in depth and 6 to 18 inches apart along the
line of desired fracture, using a hard steel bit. Plug and feather tools are then placed into the holes and the
plugs are struck successively until the wedging pressure of the feathers is sufficient to produce a failure in the
stone. Usually, a little time is allowed between the sledging of the plugs for the pressure exerted by the
feathers to be distributed evenly along the line of holes. Well developed rift and grain aid immeasurably in
plug and feather fracturing, and fortunately the rift usually parallels the major joint system along which the
opening is developed in granite deposits. Figure 6 shows the setup of a plug and feather wedge preparatory
to splitting. If it is desirable to produce a break parallel to the hard way (against rift or grain), "foot"
holes 1 to 11/2 feet deep are drilled between plug holes lVo to 4 feet apart and the same procedure used as in
The Commercial Granites of North Carolina
Plug and Feather Splitting of Granite
(J. A. Logan Quarry, Faith)
A method known as broaching or channelling also is used for making breaks in granite against rift and
grain. This method involves the drilling of closely spaced holes along the poposed line of fracture, using
a quarry or channel bar equipped with a rounded, hard steel drill. The holes are usually about 2 inches in
diameter and are drilled vertically until they intersect the sheeting plane. The undrilled granite, or webs,
remaining between the holes is removed by replacing the rounded bar with one terminating in a wedge and
drilling the webs vertically to the point of intersection with the sheeting plane. The second step completes
the separation of the block from the quarry wall. Figure 7 shows a quarry or channel bar in a working
Figure 7 : Channel Bar in Working Position
(J. A. Logan Quarry, Faith)
Large thin blocks of granite are obtained by drilling a line of holes 6 inches apart to almost the full
depth of the desired block and using plugs and feathers and channel bars in the same manner as described
In the absence of natural sheeting planes, the vertical thickness of granite is determined by artificial
breaks in the granite, accomplished by using the lift method. An artificial sheeting plane or lift is pro-
duced in the following manner : In the approximate center of the sheet to be lifted, a 2- to 3-inch diameter
hole, called the lift hole, is drilled to a depth of 6 to 10 feet, depending on the maximum thickness of stone
required, and small amounts (V2 to 1 lb.) of black powder are successively detonated in the bottom of the
The Commercial Granites of North Carolina 53
hole until a crack is extended for a distance of 75 feet, more or less circumferential to the hole. A pipe is
then cemented into the hole and air, compressed to 70- to 80-pound pressure, is gradually admitted until the
crack is extended in all directions and appears at a point on the slope surface of the deposit. A peripheral
break of say one acre requires about half an hour as against 10 to 12 days for an equal extension of the crack
using powder charges. Care must be taken during the process to control carefully the induction of com-
pressed air into the cavity ; otherwise, suddenly increased pressures will turn along a vertical plane of weak-
ness in the rock and come to the surface prior to the lifting of the sheet over the desired area. The use of
compressed air in the extension of the powder-produced, artificial sheeting plane is not always necessary,
especially during the hottest of the summer months. During the cleaving procedure in the summer, the
weight of .the overlying granite, attempting to attain gravity equilibrium by sinking into the powder-pro-
duced cavity, exerts sufficient horizontal strain or lift action in the granite to extend the crack naturally.
For reasons unknown but perhaps through the aid of natural expansion of the rock in response to heat, the
production of a sheeting plane by the described method is best accomplished during the summer months. It
is doubtful that a sheet would cleave during extremely cold weather. Lifts over small areas are completed
entirely by the use of black powder and usually cover only 1,000 to 2,000 square feet. Subdivision of the lifted
sheet is done by the plug and feather method, as described above.
Removal of Stone from Quarry: The removal of dimension stone from the quarry, or the transfer to
spur railroad or motor trucks, is accomplished by the use of derricks equipped with steam or electrically
operated hoists. The derricks are constructed either of steel or wood and are generally capable of handling
blocks weighing up to 50 tons. Electrically powered steel derricks are in general use in the dimension-stone
quarries of North Carolina.
A plan for prospecting and exploration for crushed stone sources can be carried out in much the same
fashion as one for dimension stone, though physical and structural requirements of deposits are much less
rigid. Critical analyses of size, shape, topographic expression, and overburden are parallel requisites. The
spacing and frequency of joints are considered in a different manner, and color and textural properties are
of little significance. Joints serve to best advantage when closely spaced and free from filling by fine-grain-
ed residual or clastic material, which operates as a cushioning medium to the shot. A close spacing of open
joints facilitates good fragmentation at a minimum expense, thus preventing time-consuming secondary frag-
mentation. Quarries either of the bench or pit types developed in highly jointed rock deposits are called
boulder quarries, and most crushed stone operations are developed in such. areas.
The presence of widely spaced vertical joints is as detrimental in crushed stone quarry operations as close-
ly spaced ones in dimension-stone quarries. Widely spaced fractures necessitate an increase in the use of
blasting powder for primary fragmentation, and an additional increase in cost may be incurred for secondary
shooting of large unbroken blocks. Large blocks of stone remaining after the initial shot are reduced fur-
ther in size by "adobe" shooting, "block-holing," or the drop ball. Block-holing is used most frequently in
North Carolina quarries, although it is generally more expensive than the adobe or the drop-ball methods. It
is accomplished by drilling one or more small-diameter holes with hand-held drills and detonating a powder
charge in each hole.
Perhaps the prime economic consideration in crushed-stone exploration and quarrying is the proximity
to market. Seldom, if ever, are the physical and structural characteristics of any rock deposit ideal for the
development of the deposit, but a nearness to market and a perennial demand for crushed stone frequently
offset the increased costs in the quarrying of rock of otherwise undesirable occurrence.
For successful operation, the type of quarry development for the removal of stone for crushing should
be similar to the most efficient in dimension-stone quarrying. Generally, openings are made into "domes,"
deepened vertically for 50 to 200 feet, and worked horizontally until restricted by property lines. The rather
rapid deepening of a crushed-stone quarry is necessitated by the removal of large tonnages in a comparatively
short time and the need for high quarry faces from which to dislodge large amounts of rock to feed continu-
ously operating crushers. In the shooting of characteristic steep faces in rock quarries, several rows of
holes — either parallel or staggered — are drilled to depths slightly below the floor of the quarry, charged with
54 The Commercial Granites of North Carolina
powder of great strength, and detonated either simultaneously or in milli-second, delayed-action sequence.
Shot holes of fairly large diameter (6 to 9 inches) produce the most desirable fragmentation. Blasting
methods for the dislocation of stone are varied and generally are applied to meet local conditions. For this
reason, differences in physical properties of granites necessitate the use of standard methods coupled with
specific alterations in crushed-stone quarries in North Carolina. For details of blasting procedures used in
quarries, the reader is referred to the many handbooks regarding the use of high explosives.
THE TESTING OF GRANITE
Granite is among the most enduring of all building materials. Structures built of granite many cen-
turies ago are still in good condition and should withstand successfully the detrimental effects of weather-
ing for many centuries to come . Testing of the enduring qualities of granites is best accomplished by ob-
serving the stone year after year during which time it is exposed to the naturally destructive effects of
weather. Because this is impractical, various methods have been devised for the testing of stone whereby
natural weathering processes are duplicated as closely as possible and accelerated in the laboratory. The
most important of these tests is concerned with the effects on stone subjected to frost action and the chem-
ical reactions produced by slightly acid waters, such as, rainwater and fog.
Granites are porous to some extent. Tests have shown that medium-grained granites contain pore spaces
equal to one-tenth of one percent to as high as five-tenths of one percent of the total volume of the stone
(Meinzer, 1923). Water infiltrating the usually subcapillary sized voids is in large part trapped and re-
mains essentially as a permanent pore filling. The repeated freezing and thawing, expansion and contrac-
tion, of the contained water results in the development of incipient fractures and a subsequent enlargement
and increase of the pore spaces within the stone by wedging of the mineral grains along cleavage planes and
grain contacts. During periods of thawing, part of the trapped water may be released from the enlarged
voids, but additional water reenters the pores, and the wedging action of freezing water is repeated. The
enlargement resulting from the expansion of the liquid in the subcapillary voids also produces increased
surface areas upon which waters can perform solvent action, and the feldspar constituents, together with
any , undesirable accessory minerals (iron sulphides, etc.) present in the rock, will undergo chemical decom-
position. The solvent action upon these minerals is reflected by the overall weakening of the stone, by chem-
ical disintegration, and the production of unsightly iron oxide and other stains derived from the alteration
of sulphide and iron oxide accessory minerals. It is interesting to note that granite in its natural state
contains about 8 percent of water and is capable of absorbing 2 percent more; therefore, a cubic yard of
granite contains approximately 3.5 gallons of water and will absorb about nine-tenths of a gallon more.
The duplication of frost action is accomplished in the laboratory by saturating a test block of stone in a
sodium sulphate solution at a temperature of 70° F. for a predetermined time, followed by a period of drying
at 110° C. This test produces results corresponding to the action of alternate freezing and thawing. Some
tests duplicating frost action require a deep freezing of the material followed by thawing at room tempera-
ture, but tests of this type are not standardized.
Unweathered granite is a very strong material. Crushing strengths ranging from 18,384 to 22,469
pounds per square inch are encountered in the granite of the Mt. Airy district, and stone of related composi-
tion in Rowan County is believed to possess equal strength. It will be noted that ordinary stone construction
requires crushing strengths of 6,000 or more pounds per square inch; so, the dimension granites of North
Carolina compare favorably and even exceed the strength required in any type of construction. The de-
termination of crushing strength is accomplished by the use of specially constructed pressure machines
into which are placed cubes or cores of the stone to be tested.
Other tests of relatively minor importance include those devised for the determination of ratio of expan-
sion and contraction, elasticity, resistance to shearing forces, fireproof properties, and color changes. For a
discussion of the tests and the various testing media and machines, the reader is referred to the publications
of the American Society for Testing materials.
The Commercial Granites of North Carolina 55
The most common tests performed for the determination of the wearing and lasting properties of crushed
stone include hardness, toughness, and soundness.
Hardness: The hardness of stone is expressed as a coefficient value and is sometimes obtained by sub-
jecting a core of the rock one inch in diameter to the abrasive action of a revolving steel disk over which
crushed quartz sand (30-40 mesh) is passed. After 1,000 revolutions of the disk, the loss in weight (w) of
the rock core is determined and the hardness factor obtained by the formula 20-w/3. In recent years, how-
ever, the Los Angeles abrasion test has replaced this and other tests made for the determination of hard-
ness of crushed stone. The Los Angeles abrasion machine consists of a steel drum 28 inches in diameter and
20 inches long, mounted so that rotation is around the long axis of the drum. A radial shelf about 4 inches
wide extends from end to end inside the drum. For the test 5,000 grams of sized crushed aggregate with
12 steel spheres weighing 390-440 grams each are placed inside the drum and rotated 500 revolutions at the
rate of 30-33 rpm. At the end of the test, the loss due to abrasion is determined by rescreening the original
sample and computing the percentage of loss as related to the weight of the original aggregate sample. Such
a test as that briefly described above is called the A abrasion test and is usually followed by the B and C
tests during the comprehensive testing of aggregates. The Los Angeles abrasion tests are accomplished in
the same machine but are independent determinations. Each requires a multi-sized aggregate and steel
spheres of different total weights. Both the sizes in the aggregate and the steel spheres used are based on
established standards. Results of Los Angeles abrasion tests of North Carolina granites from various local-
ities are given in Table III.
Toughness: Toughness as defined in a preceding section of this paper is determined by subjecting a core
of rock one inch in diameter to the impact of a 2-kilogram hammer, falling from successively increasing
heights of one centimeter until the core fractures. The height in centimeters through which the hammer is
required to fall for fracture is taken as the toughness value for the rock.
Table III. Results of Los Angeles Abrasion Tests on Some North Carolina Granites
Type of Test Described
Name of Quarry ABC Location Page
Balfour Quarry 25 26 31 Rowan 29
Grassy Creek Quarry* 27 29 31 Granville 24
Greystone Quarry 36 38 42 Vance 21
Guil Quarry 40 42 43 Guilford 36
High Point Quarry 33 35 37 Guilford 37
Ivey Bluff Quarry* 32 31 34 Caswell 40
McLeansville Quarry 23 24 27 Guilford 35
Mt. Airy Quarries 52 54 53 Surry 45
Neverson Quarry 31 32 35 Wilson 10
Pearman Quarry* 50 50 51 Guilford 37
Penrose Quarry* 29 27 32 Transylvania*** 49
Person Quarry* 26 27 30 Person 44
Lassiter Quarry 61 66 64 Wake 18
W. E. Graham Quarry 25 25 27 Forsyth** 40
Winston-Salem Quarry 48 51 53 Forsyth 34
Woodleaf Quarry 32 34 36 Rowan 38
* Non- Commercial Quarry
*** Comparable to Henderson County stone
Soundness : The soundness of crushed rock or its resistance to the action of freezing and thawing is de-
termined in much the same manner as for dimension stone but is yet unstandardized. Usually, the sized
and dried aggregate sample is immersed in a saturated solution of sodium sulphate, kept at a reasonably
constant temperature of 70°F. for approximately 18 hours, removed, and dried in an oven at 105° to 110° C. for
several hours. Following the oven drying, the sample is exposed to room temperature for several hours
more. The chemical and structural effects of the action of the solution on the stone are determined after
56 The Commercial Granites of North Carolina
each cycle of the process by visual inspection and screening. The test duplicates the natural freezing and
thawing processes of nature by the forces exerted on the liquid-filled pores of the stone during the crystal-
lization of the dissolved solids contained in the sulphate solution.
Mechanical Analysis: Tests for size and mechanical analysis of crushed stone are made by the use of
square-opening sieves, conforming to United States Bureau of Standards sieve sizes.
For details concerning the various methods of testing both dimension and crushed stone, the reader is
referred to "The American Society for Testing Materials Standards," Part II, 1946.
The utilization of stone resources, especially granite, in North Carolina has resulted in a mineral indus-
try unequalled in size in the State. Since 1900, the value of quarried granite products in all forms has shown
a continued increase, and in 1950 it approached an annual value of $8,500,000.00. This figure represents ap-
proximately 32 percent of the total income derived from the sale of raw minerals and mineral products in
North Carolina during the same year. In comparison, the 1950 production of industrial minerals (mica, clay,
feldspar, pyrophyllite, talc), for which the State is well known, accounted for 35 percent of the total, an
amount only slightly larger than that attributable to granite products. Therefore, as a mineral product the
income from marketed granite surpasses that of other individual minerals and essentially equals the total for
nonmetallics, excluding sand and gravel.
Table IV shows the percentage relationships of the worth of granite products to the total value of ex-
ploited minerals in North Carolina during selected years since 1900. It also reflects the direct relationship
of income from granite quarrying to the mining economy of the State. The sale of crushed granite, of which
North Carolina is the Nation's largest producer, is responsible for about 80 per cent of the total granite sales
in the State during 1950.
Table IV. Percentage Relationship of Granite Products to Total
Value of Minerals Produced in North Carolina, 1900-1950
Year All Minerals
1900 $ 1,604,078
MARKET VALUE AND TRANSPORTATION
Dimension Stone : Dimension granite is a relatively high-priced commodity ; consequently, distance to
market and cost of transportation are not generally considered important economic factors in the production
of superior quality stone. This is especially true of stone unique to a particular area, such as, Rowan County
and Surry County, from which pink and white granites, respectively, are marketable at high prices in many
parts of the United States. Transportation costs for large blocks of granite are high, but quality stone de-
mands a price which offsets the added expense of long-distance shipping. Current prices (1950) for block
granite for the monument trade range from about $3 to $5 per cubic foot (160 lbs.) for rough stone, to $12
and up for dressed stone. Prices for rough and finished building stone of corresponding quality run slightly
lower. The Northeast and Central United States constitute the normal maximum distances to which North
Carolina granite is shipped, but the pink variety from Rowan County has been marketed in recent years in
Hawaii. The movement of dimension granite to these markets is about equally divided between rail and
motor conveyance. Ordinarily, rough or unfinished stone is transported to finishers by rail and manufac-
tured blocks are moved by motor freight to market areas.
The Commercial Granites of North Carolina
Crushed Stone: Crushed granite, in direct contrast to dimension granite, is a low-cost commodity in
which the transportation factor is the primary economic consideration. This factor results from the wide
distribution of many types of stone suitable for crushing and the availability of natural gravel in some areas.
Because of this widespread availability of stone and gravel, the market for crushed stone is necessarily at
close proximity to the quarrying operation and is usually a local product for use by local markets, seldom be-
ing carried by trucks to points more distant than 30 miles or by rail more than 100 miles from the quarry.
In North Carolina, however, crushed granites and related rocks from the Piedmont region are sometimes
marketed in Coastal-Plain cities more distant from the quarry, a transportation factor brought about by the
scarcity of crystalline rocks for crushing within the Coastal Plain Province. In order to meet competition,
crushed granite is currently sold at prices ranging from $1.10 to $1.75 per ton delivered to consumer convey-
ance at the quarry.
Dimension Stone : Production data for the early years of the stone industry in North Carolina are not
available; however, it is estimated from incomplete statistics that a total of some 3,500 short tons, or 41,000
cubic feet, of dimension granite were produced in the State during 1901. The calculated figure of short-ton
production was determined by dividing the total value of dimension granite by an average unit value per ton,
based on products from another granite-producing area, Barre, Vermont. The number of cubic feet produced
was obtained by multiplying the figure estimated as short-ton production by twelve, the approximate number
1900 1905 1910 1915 1920 1925 1930 1935 1940 1945 1950
Figure 8 : Value of Granite and Belated Rocks in North Carolina, 1901-1950
58 The Commercial Granites of North Carolina
of cubic feet contained in a ton of granite. The number of cubic feet per short ton of granite is based upon
a specific gravity of 2.60, a figure reduced slightly for convenience.
Production figures for 1950 reveal a 700 percent increase (287,000 cubic feet) in both the production and
value of marketed dimension granite. The substantial increase is attributable principally to the continued
growth in popularity of the superior grade white granites of the Mt. Airy district and the pink granites of the
Salisbury area in the building and monument industries. At present, these two sections are responsible for
almost the entire output of dimension granite marketed by North Carolina quarrymen, production being re-
stricted largely to rough and finished monumental and constructional stone and small quantities of curbing,
paving block, and rubble.
Crushed Stone : The increased use of crushed rock for concrete aggregate and highway construction, be-
ginning early in the century, is now largely responsible for an annual production in excess of 5,000,000 tons,
an increase of over 3,000 percent in less than 50 years. The products from crushed-stone quarries in North
Carolina include various standard sieve sizes for highway construction, concrete aggregate, railroad ballast,
and minor amounts for use in filter beds and for other domestic purposes.
Figure 8 shows the combined annual value of dimension and crushed granite since 1900, and it reflects
generally the relative production for the corresponding years.
Dimension Stone: Dimension granite and related rocks quarried in North Carolina are used for four
principal purposes. In order of market value, they are dressed monumental stone, dressed constructional
stone, dressed architectural stone, and curbing. Additional uses, including utilization as rubble, paving
blocks, and rough construction stone, constitute a small part of the production of stone from most of the
dimension-stone quarries. The highest quality stone is used for monuments because most of it is polished,
and polishing will accentuate any defects present in lower quality stone. Curbing material is the lowest
quality, and dressed architectural and construction stone represent the intermediate quality from the quarries.
Crushed Stone : In North Carolina, crushed stone is used principally for concrete aggregate, road metal,
and other surfacing-material aggregates. The value of railroad ballast, the second most important use, con-
stitutes about 10 percent of the total. Granitic rocks are especially adapted for these purposes, being chem-
ically inert and generally less affected by abrasion than some other types of rock. Rocks, roughly classified
as granite-gneiss, also constitute important crushed-stone sources in the State and were discussed in the de-
scriptions of the individual areas where applicable. The crushed-stone producers of the State are equipped
generally to supply crushed material of any desired size, washed or unwashed, according to demand.
The Commercial Granites of North Carolina 59
Blaster's Handbook, 1952, E. I. du Pont de Nemours and Co., Wilmington, Del.
Bowles, Oliver, 1939, The stone industries : McGraw-Hill Book Co., New York.
Bryson, Herman J., 1937, The mining industry in North Carolina from 1929-1936 : N. C. Dept. Cons, and
Devel. Economic Paper 64.
Dale, T. N., 1909, The granites of Vermont: U. S. Geol. Survey Bull. 404.
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Devel. Bull. 65.
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